Cancer Survivors Benefit from Physical Therapy During, After Treatment

April 06, 2016
Rehab Squat
Fighting cancer requires courage and mental toughness. Working to maintain your fitness and endurance can help you during your treatment and recovery.
Scheduling more appointments on top of your cancer tests and treatment might seem like a burden, But studies cited by The American Cancer Society show that physical rehabilitation improves pain, function, and quality of life in cancer survivors at every stage of treatment.

Cancer fatigue

Oncology treatments can wear down your body and zap your energy. With cancer fatigue, walking to the mailbox might feel as challenging as climbing 10 flights of stairs once did.
You might think, I'm tired; I need to rest. And cancer patients certainly need plenty of rest. But you also need to think, I'm tired; I need to keep moving. Because keeping your body active and strong will help you in your fight against cancer.
The physical therapists at NHRMC Oleander Rehabilitation and NHRMC Independence Rehabilitation are trained to help you improve your strength before treatment, to maintain your physical stamina during treatment, and to help you recover from any effects of cancer and treatment that impact your mobility and function.

Fall risk

Before the onset of cancer, walking might have required no thought or effort on your part. Your legs were strong, your core was solid and your balance was steady.
Cancer and its treatment, however, can lead to decreased strength and smaller range of motion. In addition, you may experience less sensitivity in your nerves and the sensors that control your balance. This combination puts cancer patients at risk of falling, particularly for older patients.
The staff at the NHRMC Rehabilitation will analyze any walking difficulties, work to help you regain muscle condition, mobility and balance, and identify opportunities to increase safety in the home.


Breast cancer patients often have lymph nodes removed. The patients are then susceptible to lymphedema, or swelling that is caused by an accumulation of fluid due to the disruption of the lymph system. In cases of severe lymphedema, a patient's arm might swell up to more than twice its normal size.
Education is the key to preventing and treating lymphedema, and our physical therapists will share their expertise with you.
If you do develop lymphedema, our therapists use a hands-on approach to help decrease the swelling and to retrain the body to better handle the swelling. Movement of the affected limb helps keep the lymphatic fluid draining properly. Our physical therapists also use compression garments to help control the swelling.

Speech, swallowing

Certain cancers, such as those involving the head and neck, can cause problems with speaking and swallowing. Oleander Rehab offers treatment for both of these situations.
Our speech language pathologists will assess the current speech level, and instruct you on oral motor exercises designed to help you articulate clearly and communicate better. For patients with swallowing difficulties, our therapists will teach you swallowing exercises to improve strength and coordination so that you will be able to eat proper foods without fear of choking.

How to get help

Many types of physical therapy are available for cancer patients. Doctors don't always prescribe physical therapy, but studies have shown that rehabilitation improves the quality of life for cancer survivors. Many insurance plans cover oncology rehabilitation therapy. Ask your doctor if you might benefit from physical therapy during or after treatment.

Outpatient Physical Therapy Locations

Independence Rehabilitation
2800 Ashton Drive
Wilmington, NC 28412
Office Phone: (910) 667-3270

Oleander Rehabilitation
5220 Oleander Drive
Wilmington, NC 28403
Office Phone: (910) 667-8104

Health & Diagnostics-Rocky Point
7910 US HWY 117 S.
Rocky Point, NC 28457
Office Phone: (910) 675-0370
Categories: Your Health
Topics: Cancer

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