Patient Support

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Who Can Benefit from Physical Therapy?

Here are several examples of patients who are commonly referred for physical therapy at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).

Leukemia/Lymphoma Patients
Patients may be weak from abnormal blood counts and/or from cancer treatments. The following services are offered:

  • Strength training—gently, according to SCCA blood-value guidelines
  • Cardiovascular and stretching education
  • Safety and fatigue management

Multiple Myeloma Patients
Patients often have disease spread to multiple bones upon diagnosis. Careful, tailored exercise is important to help maintain function and quality of life and to gently enhance the non-cancerous portions of the bone. The following services are offered:

  • Strength training—gently strengthening the muscles surrounding the bones to increase bone strength and stability to decrease the risk of falls, fractures or pain
  • Cardiovascular and stretching training
  • Spinal bracing to assist proper healing and pain relief
  • Safety management
  • Pain management

Bone Marrow Transplant Patients
Pediatric and adult patients should exercise as much as possible prior to their transplant in order to maximize function and strength. Exercise before, throughout and after the transplant is critical to decrease the possibility of complications such as severe muscle atrophy, infections, falls and depression. The following services are offered:

  • Strength training—gently, according to SCCA blood-value guidelines
  • Cardiovascular and stretching training
  • Safety and fatigue management

Long-Term Follow-Up Patients
Transplant patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease often return to the SCCA for continued management of symptoms and medications. The following services are offered:

  • Range-of-motion stretching exercise
  • Strength training
  • Cardiovascular exercise education
  • Fatigue management

Breast Cancer Patients
All patients who have had a mastectomy and/or axillary lymph node dissection are automatically referred to a physical or occupational therapist specializing in breast cancer. Patients who have had a lumpectomy may also have rehabilitation needs. We offer the following services:

  • Radiation precaution education
  • Overall shoulder stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning programs
  • Lymphedema risk-reduction education
  • Baseline arm-girth measurements
  • Assessment for axillary web syndrome (cording)
  • Scar-tissue work

For lymphedema treatment, we offer the following services:

  • Management with compression bandaging
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Lymphedema exercises
  • Education of self-manual lymph drainage massage
  • Compression sleeve/gauntlet

Melanoma Patients
Patients who have melanoma surgically removed often have lymph nodes removed as well. If lymph nodes have been removed, patients are automatically referred to a physical or occupational therapist. We offer the following services:

  • Overall shoulder stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning programs
  • Lymphedema risk-reduction education
  • Baseline arm- or leg-girth measurements
  • Assessment for axillary web syndrome (cording)
  • Scar-tissue work

For lymphedema treatment, we offer the following services:

  • Management with compression bandaging
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Lymphedema exercises
  • Education of self-manual lymph drainage massage
  • Compression garment

Head and Neck Cancer Patients
Patients who have had a neck dissection, lymph node removal, plastic surgery reconstruction and/or radiation benefit from physical therapy. We offer the following services:

  • Radiation precaution education
  • Overall shoulder stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning programs
  • Lymphedema risk-reduction education
  • Scar-tissue work

For lymphedema treatment, we offer the following services:

  • Management with compression bandaging
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Lymphedema exercises
  • Education of self-manual lymph drainage massage

Prostate Cancer Patients
Patients undergoing prostate cancer surgery usually have lymph nodes removed also. Physical therapy will address lymphedema risk-reduction education. Hormone manipulation (testosterone/androgen depletion) often causes severe muscle loss and osteoporosis, and strength training is important to maintain bone health, body mass and function. We offer the following services:

  • Overall shoulder stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning programs
  • Lymphedema risk-reduction education
  • Baseline leg-girth measurements
  • Assessment for cording
  • Scar-tissue work
  • Pain management

For lymphedema treatment, we offer the following services:

  • Management with compression bandaging
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Lymphedema exercises
  • Education of self-manual lymph drainage massage
  • Compression garment

Lung Cancer Patients
Both the disease and the treatment (such as removal of part of a lung) can cause a decrease in the patient’s lung capacity. In addition, many patients have underlying chronic lung disease, such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Scars from lung surgeries can further reduce chest-wall mobility, cause decreased shoulder range of motion and pain, and impair breathing. The following services are offered:

  • Scar-tissue work taught to the patient and caregiver
  • Cardiovascular, strength and stretching training to maximize lung function before, during and after cancer treatment

Sarcoma Patients
Depending on whether or not the sarcoma is located in the tissue or the bone, different types of physical therapy are prescribed. Patients who have had a joint replacement, reconstruction or an amputation require specific therapy to decrease phantom-limb pain and to increase functional mobility. The following services are offered:

  • Cardiovascular, strength and stretching training
  • Lymphedema risk-reduction education
  • Baseline arm or leg-girth measurements
  • Assessment for cording
  • Scar-tissue work
  • Limb desensitization after amputation

For lymphedema treatment, we offer the following services:

  • Management with compression bandaging
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Lymphedema exercises
  • Education of self-manual lymph drainage massage
  • Compression garment

Comprehensive cancer institutes throughout the United States as well as the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship endorse exercise for cancer patients.