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Importance of Physiotherapy for Cancer Patients

Physiotherapy is an integral part of cancer rehabilitation. Patients who undergo treatment for cancer have been shown to cause a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms. Physical symptoms consist of the weakness of muscles, fatigue, joint stiffness, peripheral neuropathies, edema, reduced aerobic capacity etc. Cancer prevention has 4 stages and physiotherapy plays an important role in all of them.

  1. Primordial Prevention: where the aim is to prevent the emergence of risk factors. Physiotherapists help to create awareness through mass or individual education.

  2. Primary Prevention: where the aim is to reduce the incidence of the disease. Physiotherapists help in promoting healthcare measures like reducing the risk factors in a susceptible population.

  3. Secondary Prevention: where the aim is early detection and prompt management. Physiotherapists help in screening the patients.

  4. Tertiary Prevention: where the aim is to rehabilitate. Physiotherapists help in improving physical function during or after the completion of the treatment.

For Patients in palliative care, Physiotherapists help to maintain patients’ optimal physical function, pain control measures, prevention of deformities, and maximal independence in Activities of Daily Living.

Physiotherapists carry out a detailed assessment of the patient and focus on the patient’s symptoms by keeping the bio psychosocial model of the international classification of functioning (ICF) in mind.

Based on ICF, patients are given detailed and personalized exercise programs which might consist of strengthening exercises, stretching Exercises, desensitization techniques, endurance training and multilayer lymphedema bandaging and many more.

Physiotherapy management in cancer rehabilitation focuses more on exercise-based treatments since the deep heating modalities are relatively contraindicated in cancer patients.

Also, it’s very important to prevent fatigue in these patients and hence the intensity and repetitions of the exercises must be monitored.

Ref: Greene H, cancer Prevention, Screening and Early detection. Oncology Nursing society, 2015


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