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Cancer Rehab and Integrative Medicine

“Having been an oncology physical therapist for almost a decade in the hospital setting, I saw a need for a more holistic and multidisciplinary approach to recovery. Inspired by my own mother and grandmother’s journeys with cancer I opened Cancer Rehab Austin in January of 2016. Thankfully the treatment of cancer is starting to move more towards quality of life and addressing the entire person, not just their cancer. That mission is at the heart of CRA ” — Owner and lead therapist Dr. Angela Wicker-Ramos PT, DPT Oncology rehabilitation is a type of therapy that helps individuals achieve improved physical function during and after cancer treatment. Therapists receive specific training to address the unique needs of individuals undergoing or recovering from cancer surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Oncology rehabilitation is helpful for those dealing with all cancer types. Surgical treatment for cancer can lead to tissue tightness and scarring, decreased range of motion, swelling and pain. Physical therapy utilizes manual techniques and gentle exercises to assist in improving tissue quality, endurance, motion, circulation and pain. Among uro-gynecological cancers, incontinence and pelvic pain are common side effects. Pelvic floor rehabilitation helps decrease these symptoms by strengthening and/or releasing spasm and tension in the pelvic floor muscles. Radiation treatment can cause fatigue, swelling, and hardening of tissues which may create restrictions in motion and poor tolerance to activity. Oncology rehabilitation can help with use of energy conservation techniques, range of motion, endurance exercises and tissue/muscle mobilization. Research shows that an exercise routine can help decrease some of the side effects of chemotherapy, including fatigue, joint pain, neuropathy (nerve symptoms like numbness and tingling) and difficulty sleeping. Physical therapy can assist in developing a safe and appropriate exercise routine to help reduce these potential chemotherapy side effects. Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling that can occur after any type of cancer treatment. A certified lymphedema therapist can help decrease the swelling with Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). This therapy treatment includes patient education, compression, manual techniques to help move the excess fluid out of the area and exercises to increase circulation and fluid movement. If you are currently undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment and feel that physical therapy may be helpful, ask your medical oncologist, plastic surgeon, radiation oncologist or general practitioner for a referral. Make sure the physical therapist you select has training specific to oncology rehabilitation. Recovering from cancer treatment can be a slow process and takes time and patience. Resources are available to assist you in improving your quality of life during or after cancer treatment.