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Physical therapist Karen Hock works with a patient in the physical therapy gym at the Comprehensive Breast Center. Therapy can be beneficial to patients with breast cancer at all stages along their journey — from their diagnosis, through treatment and after.
Surviving breast cancer is a tremendous victory. Sometimes, however, that triumph is accompanied by lingering side effects of treatment and surgery, such as pain, muscle weakness, swelling and fatigue. The specialists at Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James) have developed programs and services that address long-term survivorship. The new JamesCare Comprehensive Breast Center provides the full continuum of breast cancer care, from prevention and screening through detection, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship to help improve the quality of a person's life after cancer.
A large area of the Comprehensive Breast Center is devoted to our Oncology Rehabilitation Program. With a dedicated rehabilitation gym and seven private rooms for physical therapists to treat and talk with patients and their families, we provide individualized rehab care for cancer survivors.
Rehabilitation for Cancer Survivors
Survivors from all cancers often have similar, lingering effects after treatment: fatigue, weakness, weight loss or weight gain, tissue and joint limitations and scarring. Another common problem is lymphedema, the swelling that occurs in arms and legs and other areas due to the disruption or removal of parts of the lymphatic system during surgery. Impaired mobility and physical well-being after cancer are concerns as well.
The OSUCCC – James Oncology Rehabilitation Program can help cancer survivors deal with these post-treatment issues through physical therapy. Our physical therapists can help patients increase muscle and joint strength, improve range of motion in joints and tissues (especially in those areas that have undergone radiation therapy), increase endurance, reduce fatigue and conserve energy. The rehab gym houses several pieces of range-of-motion and joint strength and endurance equipment, including a treadmill, seated elliptical machine, bicycle and resistance machines.
Breast Cancer Focus
The Oncology Rehabilitation Clinic includes a program for even more specialized care of patients with breast cancer, both pre-operatively and postoperatively. "Lymphedema treatment is a big focus of our program," says Karen Hock, PT, MS, CLT-LANA, a physical therapist at the Comprehensive Breast Center. "We have specialized training in lymphedema, and several of our lymphedema therapists are certified. In fact, we have the largest, most specialized lymphedema clinic in central Ohio.
"Also, we are focusing more on pre-op assessments with breast patients," shares Hock. "For example, we measure body fluid levels before and after surgery, allowing us to pick up early-stage lymphedema. The faster we start treating lymphedema, the better."
People who have had lymphedema or other postcancer treatment problems for a long time can still benefit from our program.
"You don't have to live with pain and other discomforts," says Hock. "There are many ways we can significantly improve the quality of your life. Cancer patients can benefit from rehab at any stage along their journey, including at diagnosis, during treatment or even years after treatment."