Physiotherapy: Oncology (Cancer)
Physiotherapy plays an important role in the holistic care for the cancer patient.
Role of the Physiotherapist in Oncology Care:
Research has proven the importance of exercise and activity through treatment for cancer. Oncology undergo multiples of side effects including fatigue, decreased activity and in some cases mobility. Specific side effects such as joint stiffness, muscle weakness and lymphoedema can also be experienced.
Physiotherapy has been shown to play an important role in the management of these side effects.
Beacon Hospital Physiotherapy Department want to help you to:
- Optimize activity levels prior and during cancer treatment.
- Maintain joint flexibility and muscle strength.
- Treat specific side effects such as lymphedema
- Assist and advise on recovery to a healthy lifestyle including exercise following a cancer experience.
Beacon physiotherapists are in constant communication with the Oncology team including consultant oncologist, radiation oncologist, radiation therapists and specialized nursing staff to make sure a multi-disciplinary approach is taken towards your care.
Conditions we treat at Beacon Hospital:
Exercise Prescriptions (Inpatients and Outpatients)
In later years, research has suggested that taking part in moderate levels of exercise plays an important role in living through a cancer diagnosis and its treatments, helping with:
- Maintaining energy levels and lessening fatigue
- Maintain general function and muscle strength
- Keeping your bones strong while reducing the risk of osteoporosis
- Improving balance and reducing the risk of falls and broken bones
- Improving weight control
- Improving circulation to the legs (reducing risk of blood clots)
- Exercise has also been shown to reduce levels of anxiety and depression through cancer treatment.
Beacon Hospital’s Physiotherapy Department dedicate themselves to helping you. Care is individual for every person, that is why we feel it’s important to specialise in making individualised programmes for every patient on their recovery journey.
This may include use of an activity diary, one-to-one physiotherapy gym sessions and referral to one of our group-based exercise programmes such as circuit training or Pilates.
How do you know if you are doing too much or too little?
The easiest way to know if you are exercising to the right level is to monitor the effect the activity is having on your breathing.
- Too little: If you feel no effect on your breathing at all- you are able to sing.
- Too much: If you are unable to catch your breath- you are unable to hold a conversation with your training partner.
- Just right: You feel slightly to moderately breathless while exercising but are able to maintain a conversation with your training partner.
Lymphoedema is the name given for a lymph vessel or node becoming blocked and subsequently, the lymph fluid cannot pass along it. As the tissue fluid cannot drain away normally, it builds up and causes swelling. This can also be referred to as Oedema. When the swelling is due to a problem in the lymph system, it is then given the name Lymphoedema.
Primary Lymphoedema refers to Lymphoedema when the lymphatic system has not formed properly. This is quite rare in patients. It can also be caused by other medical conditions that affect the lymphatic system.
Secondary Lymphoedema refers to Lymphoedema caused by the cancer itself or the treatment. It can occur if the lymph nodes are blocked with cancer or if they have been removed by surgery. Radiotherapy can also cause lymphoedema by causing a build up of scar tissue within the lymph nodes.
Not everyone who has radiotherapy or surgery to the lymph nodes will get Lymphoedema. However, everyone who has undergone these procedures is at risk of developing lymphoedema after treatment.
We offer a comprehensive rehabilitation service to oncology inpatients, including post-operative care and inpatient based rehab. We find that early-rehab and mobility plays an important part of recovery post-surgery. To help you on this journey, your surgeon can refer you for physio after your procedure.
Your physio will guide you with specific exercises to help recover joint range of movement and muscle strength following surgery. Our physiotherapy team will prepare a tailored program aimed at helping you recover to your pre-surgery activity levels.
At Beacon Hospital, our Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Oncology Care is also a fully qualified and registered Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist. She can assess your risk of developing Lymphoedema, assess the severity of Lymphoedema if present and also provide necessary treatment.
The goal of our service is to raise Lymphoedema Awareness among our patients and offer early intervention to prevent the progression of symptoms.
The Assessment Service
Limb volume measurements are taken and volume differences calculated. Skin condition is examined as well as limb function. Treatment goals are then agreed between the therapist and patient, to ensure that the patient is fully comfortable with their journey, aims and expected outcomes.
Lymphoedema can sometimes be prevented or managed by abiding by simple guidelines. Your Physiotherapist will provide you with all the necessary information on how to help prevent Lymphoedema from occurring and what to do if you suspect you may be developing symptoms.
Your Physiotherapist has all the knowledge on the actions you can take to improve your condition. They can advise you on decongestive exercises and skin care. At Beacon Hospital, we specialise in Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage, as a way to treating Lymphoedema.
Manual Lymphatic Draining
This is specialised form of skin massage which aims to redirect fluid from swollen areas to healthy lymphatic vessels, transporting it back to the normal circulatory system. The treatment is very gentle and a typical session will involve drainage of the neck, trunk and the affected extremity. Intensive sessions can be arranged with your Physiotherapist if required.
Referrals and Appointments
Your consultant may refer you for physiotherapy. Inpatients can be seen throughout their hospital stay. Outpatients can be seen by appointment in our outpatient Physiotherapy Department.
Private health insurance companies may reimburse a percentage of costs paid for physiotherapy treatments in Beacon Hospital. We advise you to consult your individual health insurance company to find out if you may be able to claim back some of the amount paid for your Physiotherapy appointment. Tax relief can also be claimed against costs paid for Physiotherapy appointments by completing and submitting a MED 1 form to your local tax office.