Roswell Park’s PT Team Helps Patients Build Strength and Mobility

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Patient working his a physical therapist

October Marks National Physical Therapy Month

If you’re about to enter cancer treatment, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Physical Therapy (PT) team may provide part of your care. The team is specially trained to help cancer patients prepare for and recover from rigorous treatments so they can return to the same level of function they had before.

Building Strength Before Treatment

All patients being considered for a bone marrow transplant (BMT) or other cellular therapies are screened first by a physical therapist. The evaluation involves a thorough history and physical assessment to help the Transplant & Cellular Therapy team decide whether it’s appropriate for the patient to move ahead with treatment or if prehabilitation is needed first. Research confirms that these evaluations are critical to improving outcomes, especially in patients who undergo allogeneic transplant (involving a donor).

Often prehabilitation is recommended for these patients and for patients who will undergo surgery. “We perform prehabilitation to improve outcomes, because research has proven that the stronger a patient is going into treatment, the better they do afterward,” says Renee Genereux, DPT, Physical Therapist at Roswell Park.

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Get even more information on the services provided by Roswell Park’s Physical Therapy team.

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Coping with Side Effects of Treatment

Physical therapy is often needed after treatment as well — for example, when movement, strength and endurance are impaired following surgery or intensive chemotherapy. Our Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT) are highly skilled specialists who address those issues with inpatients. Often they begin working with the patient and family the day after surgery to start renewing movement so the patient can be safely discharged from the hospital.

Bryan Wittmeyer, MS, PT, Director, Rehabilitation Therapy and Wellness Services, adds that Roswell Park’s physical therapists have advanced training in specialized services to treat additional treatment-related side effects experienced by some cancer patients, such as lymphedema or breathing difficulty, and can provide pelvic floor therapy to improve or restore continence or sexual function in men and women. “Patients who suffer from shortness of breath, urinary or fecal incontinence, vaginal pain or lymphedema should be referred to outpatient PT, because these areas greatly impact a patient’s quality of life.”

“Our physical therapists step in to help patients regain the essential functions of daily life,” says Dr. Genereux. “The goal is for the patient to regain confidence and return home with as much physical independence as possible. Physical therapists also educate patients about what to expect following treatment and offer new approaches to movement and healing to make the transition home as smooth as possible.”