Cancer Rehabilitation Services

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At Banner MD Anderson we are dedicated to helping our patients meet their individualized therapy goals. Some cancer treatments can result in functional deficits which can affect your quality of daily life. That is where our cancer rehabilitation team can help.

Our therapists work closely with you and your oncology team to make sure your cancer rehabilitation treatment plan is tailored to meet your individual needs.

The rehabilitation services offered at Banner MD Anderson include:

Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center maintains a robust lymphedema management program to help cancer patients manage and overcome this condition.

What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a painful swelling that can occur when there is an interruption of normal lymphatic flow in the body. The interruption can occur as a result from:

  • surgery
  • radiation
  • infection
  • trauma

What Causes Lymphedema?

With normal lymphatic flow, the amount of fluid traveling to the arm/ leg area is the same as the amount of fluid leaving the area. When lymphedema occurs, the amount of fluid traveling to the area is more than the amount leaving because of damage to the body's lymphatic “transport system.” Lymphatic fluid is rich with protein and that protein can act as a magnet for swelling. The protein serves as a food source for infection, therefore, making it difficult to treat.

How We Can Help

Following an evaluation by a certified lymphedema therapist, patients receive individualized lymphedema therapy that may consist of:

  • Exercise – Stretching or other special lymphedema exercises to help move the fluid.
  • Skin care – Proper skin care to keep the skin moist and less prone to cracks, cuts and blisters that increase risk of infection.
  • Massage – Manual lymph draining is a gentle form of massage. A lymphedema massage helps mobilize the fluid and direct it to other pathways in the body.
  • Bandaging – A technique using cotton, low-stretch bandages to apply pressure to the affected limb or other body part.
  • Compression garments – Elastic fabric garments similar to support stockings that apply pressure to the affected area to help move fluid to reduce swelling.

Let your physician know if you develop signs of lymphedema and request a referral to the cancer center’s lymphedema therapist.

Cancer Physical Therapy can help patients improve strength, flexibility and functional movement such as mobility, walking and balance after treatments. Our rehabilitation staff will with you to determine the specific therapy you may need.

Some of the therapies we provide include:

Cancer-Related Fatigue Therapy

By definition, cancer-related fatigue is a distressing, persistent, subjective sense of physical, emotional, and/or cognitive tiredness, or exhaustion related to cancer treatment that is not proportional to recent activity and interferes with usual functioning. Fatigue can be a common issue for patients with cancer and is a normal complaint from cancer survivors. Fatigue can affect every part of a patient’s daily life and can be a barrier to healing as well. Physical therapy and cancer rehabilitation is a good way to relieve some of this fatigue.

Common causes of cancer-related fatigue are:

  • Anemia
  • Comorbid conditions
  • Deconditioning
  • Emotional distress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Pain
  • Poor sleep, both quality and quantity
  • Poor nutrition

Fatigue can affect every part of a patient’s daily life and can be a barrier to healing. That is why our staff feel it is essential to distinguish cancer related fatigue from other causes.

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation

Pelvic floor rehabilitation is a non-surgical approach to rehabilitation of dysfunctions in the pelvis that contribute to bladder issues and pain complaints. Patients can suffer from issues of urge incontinence or urgency as well as pain that can restrict their mobility away from home.

Our physical therapists are skilled in the performance of comprehensive screenings and testing in order to work with patients in the development of an individualized program to assist patients to recover control.

Occupational therapy for oncology patients emphasizes your independence in the home and work environment. Our occupational therapy rehabilitation can assist you in improving and learning new ways to carry out activities of daily living including eating, bathing, grooming and dressing.

Following a careful assessment of your strength, coordination, body mechanics, and pain, an individualized treatment plan will be developed to assist you in achieving maximum success and independence in your daily life.

Our therapists are well trained in oncology to provide you with the following services:

  • Hand therapy: Our therapists focus on restoring and improving upper extremity strength and function. They develop treatment plans to improve sensation, range of motion, and coordination of your hand, arm, and shoulder.
  • Lymphedema
  • Splint manufacturing: Custom splints are fabricated and adjusted on site to provide stability and improved function of your hand and upper extremity.
  • Teaching of energy conservation strategies: Our therapists can teach you new ways to complete daily tasks to avoid fatigue and maximize your independence.
  • Use of adaptive equipment: Our therapists can recommend and instruct you with use of special equipment, to make daily tasks easier and safer.

Speech Pathologists, also referred to as Speech Language Pathologists or Speech Therapists, specialize in the evaluation and treatment of speech, language, swallowing, voice, and cognitive disorders.

At Banner MD Anderson, our Speech Pathologists have extensive experience in head and neck cancer and provide highly skilled, individualized speech therapy for cancer patients. Some of the speech therapies we provide include:

Cognition Therapy

Our therapists work with you to improve memory, problem solving, sequencing, attention and organization, to increase safety and independence in your home and work environment.

Laryngectomy Rehabilitation

Following a total laryngectomy (the surgical removal of the larynx or voice box), our speech pathologists work with patients to resume communication through Tracheoesophageal Voice Prosthesis (TEP), as well as the use of an electrolarynx. We also work closely with physicians to determine when it is safe to eat and drink, and we monitor how well patients are tolerating their diet.

Speech/Articulation Therapy

Sometimes, cancers involving the head and neck can impact your ability to speak clearly and produce sounds normally. Speech therapy for head and neck cancer can help you improve strength and range of motion of your lips, tongue, mandible (jaw), and soft palate.

Swallowing Therapy

Our therapists provide thorough assessment and intervention to maximize your ability to eat and drink safely. We work closely with our dietitians to ensure your nutritional needs are met through your cancer treatment and beyond

Voice Therapy

Voice disorders occur when a person’s vocal folds don’t vibrate normally. This can occur due to a tumor or growth, surgery and other cancer treatments, and can impact a person’s pitch, volume, tone, and voice quality. Our therapists instruct patients on how to maximize their ability to voice and can work with you to improve vocal quality.