Monday 3 February 2014

Challenges and Rewards of Exercising With Chemo Brain

The challenge of doing regular exercise can be overwhelming for a patient with chemo brain

Managing Cancer Rehab Takes A Team Approach

Sometimes the opportunity to work collaboratively from seemingly disparate rehab specialties comes when we least expect it. This is often the case when treating cancer survivors and cancer patients in Cancer Rehab clinics, where we all work together as Physiotherapists, Acupuncturists, Kinesiologists, and Occupational Therapists to help cancer survivors recover from the side effects of their cancer treatment.

Treating an Individual's Frozen Shoulder Also Uncovered Chemo Brain

Recently one of our clinics received a referral for a physio asssessment and physical treatment when the treatment needed was also for chemo brain - requiring both a kinesiologist and occupational therapist.

  • The kinesiologist who works with cancer patients will encourage them to exercise to aid in their recovery, but exercise routines are not always easy for cancer patients. The role of the kinesiologist involves recognizing when a patient is having difficulty with proper technique or remembering exercises. These patients may need more one on one instruction, and it is important to provide them with a detailed home exercise program with pictures and instructions that are easy to understand. We know from experience that when a client is having difficulty with the exercise while in the clinic they are definitely going to have trouble at home. Lastly, the kinesiologist will follow up each visit - since repetition is key - and communicate with all team members on progress.
  • The occupational therapist treating cancer patients for chemo brain will teach cancer patients how to focus on the positive aspects of what they are doing, recognizing the small gains they make each day. They help patients to organize their thoughts by writing them down and creating a structure or plan, breaking it down in order for it to be less overwhelming. They also ask patients to time their daily activities to allow for complete cognitive rest, away from all mental stimulus including computers and television.

More Awareness of Chemo Brain Needed

Many people, including doctors and insurance companies, fail to recognize the impact chemotherapy can have on the brain and the way we think. It interferes with patients' abilities to multitask and also impairs memory, so that one day they are shown an exercise and the next day cannot recall it. This is not only due to their fatigue and loss of mobility and strength, but due to the mental confusion that comes with chemo brain. The challenge of doing regular exercise and getting back into a normal routine can be overwhelming for a patient with chemo brain.

We have found that managing cancer rehab isn't always what we expect. A lot of education is still necessary, and helping patients get back to living their lives takes a team approach.

There is More to Rehab Than Meets the Eye

Utilizing specialized rehab techniques to assist in the recovery from cancer side effects is still a relatively new field. Cancer patients who utilize rehab services for their recovery benefit from qualified specialists in physiotherapy, kinesiology, occupational therapy and acupuncture to get back on their feet.

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To find a Cancer Rehab Canada near you, visit the list of British ColumbiaSaskatchewanOntario, or Nova Scotia locations.

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