Cancer rehabilitation helps restore and keep your best function and quality of life before, during and after cancer treatment.

Cancer and cancer treatment often lead to functional impairments, which means some part of your body isn’t working at its best. Your daily life, recreation and work can be affected by severe fatigue, pain, joint stiffness, weakness, numbness or swelling. You may also have problems with balance, thinking, memory, speaking, eating or swallowing.

If offered at your cancer care center, most of the services listed here can be provided in the hospital (inpatient) or after going home (home care or outpatient).

Physical therapy

A physical therapist can help you restore and keep your mobility (ability to get around) by: 

  • Improving endurance (how long you can do an activity) and muscle strength
  • Treating joint pain and dysfunction
  • Addressing difficulties with balance to help prevent falls and injury as you return to physical activity

Pool therapy

Physical therapy treatment can be in a warm therapeutic pool. Pool therapy is ideal for people who have balance problems, limb or joint pain, or any condition that limits regular activity.

Occupational therapy

An occupational therapist (OT) can help restore the ability to do daily activities, including dressing, bathing, cooking and working.

OTs help you improve endurance and arm function (range of motion, strength, coordination). They also can adapt your home or work environment or recommend equipment to make daily living activities easier. OTs also teach techniques so you have more energy for activities that are important to you and your quality of life.

Speech therapy

A speech therapist can help restore function for swallowing, eating, speaking and communicating.

A speech therapist also helps address cognitive (thinking) difficulties that may occur during and after cancer treatment, such as “chemo brain”.

Lymphedema therapy

A lymphedema therapist educates about lymphedema (swelling) and helps those at risk with prevention. The therapist also provides treatment, using techniques such as manual lymphatic drainage massage, exercises and compression.

Exercise program

Some people like help getting back to activity safely. The exercise program is designed to help you increase endurance, strength and flexibility, improve balance, and decrease fatigue through exercise and education, so you can successfully continue an exercise routine on your own.

Cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation

If your heart or lung function has been affected by cancer or cancer treatment, these rehabilitation programs can help you get back in shape safely.

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