To go along with our introductory video for National Physical Therapy Month, we’re highlighting some areas where physical therapy can be helpful. (View it here

It may be new to you, but physical therapists can be a great help to patients who have cancer! As part of Physical Therapy Month, I want to speak to this highly specialized field of physical therapy. It’s no surprise that the number of people who receive cancer diagnoses grows each year. Many people battle cancer for months, even years, without anyone knowing.

How can physical therapy possibly be of any help?

Physical therapists who specialize in oncology (like me) have a good understanding of the most common treatment regimens that patients undergo. This may include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. One of those three is hard enough to endure, but I’ve worked with many patients who undergo all methods of treatment. Physical therapists help to manage pain and discomfort, optimize healing time after surgery, and manage fatigue and maintain strength as someone continues treatment.

Here’s a common regimen to see: a patient receives a breast cancer diagnosis. Let’s say they receive chemotherapy first, and then surgery, and then radiation. Their treatment for cancer may last up to a year. If they don’t receive physical therapy, they find themselves tired and weak at the end of that long road, with another long road ahead to get back to “normal.”

If physical therapists are available to people as they undergo cancer treatment, we can mitigate side effects of treatment before they become permanent. For weakness and fatigue, we help these patients exercise at a level that is safe and manageable. If the patient has impairments from their chemotherapy (such as tingling or numbness in the fingertips or feet or dizziness/vertigo), we can provide sensory integration techniques and work on improving balance. If they’re stiff from surgery, our orthopedic skills kick in to help with range of motion and strength.

We can also help patients with a history of cancer. Maybe you finished treatment more than a year ago, but you’ve found it’s still a struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Maybe a loved one finished cancer treatment and hasn’t felt the same since. Don’t feel like you have to suffer through alone! Call us today, ask for me personally (Laura Vroman) and I can help get you going again.

Stay tuned for more posts – physical therapy can help you get your life back, whatever ails you!