Cancer rehabilitation programs at Northern Arizona Healthcare help get you moving again

Our bodies need to move. For people with cancer, movement is especially important because cancer treatments can decrease muscle strength and capacity as well as bone mass. The consequences can be devastating to an individual’s quality of life; affecting his or her ability to work and participate in meaningful activities.

The good news: research shows that cancer patients who participate in regular exercise and/or a cancer rehabilitation program during treatment can get even stronger than before.

Northern Arizona Healthcare’s EntireCare Rehab and Sports Medicine department at Flagstaff Medical Center offers cancer rehabilitation treatment – which can include occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy – to patients who wish to improve their overall functional capacity and return to independence. This expert care helps patients fight long-term effects of cancer treatment; improve bone health; relieve joint and muscle pain; increase energy; prevent lymphedema; and improve general physical and emotional health and well-being.  

During cancer rehabilitation, the therapist and patient work as a team to create an individualized care plan, including a home program, tailored to the patient’s goals.

Treatment can consist of multiple therapy sessions, or just one or two consultations regarding an effective, safe, and appropriate home program. Therapy can target side effects such as pain and fatigue; neuropathy; post-surgical muscle and joint constriction; preventing or managing lymphedema after lymph node removal and radiation; and generalized weakness. Some individuals benefit from aquatherapy in the pool environment if they experience pain or discomfort with traditional exercise.

If you feel you would benefit from a cancer rehabilitation program or evaluation with a therapist, ask your primary care physician or oncologist for a referral to therapy services. Medicare and other insurance plans provide coverage for this care. 

Article was written byTeanna Hall, O.T.R/L, C.L.T., occupational therapist with EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine in Flagstaff.