Through Community Medical Center’s Department of Rehabilitation Services, cancer patients receive specialized inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services that focus on regaining physical function and independence.
An experienced staff of physical, occupational and speech-language therapists delivers individualized care to meet the needs of cancer patients, based on health issues resulting from the cancer or from cancer treatment.
Occupational Therapy for Oncology Patients
Helping cancer patients return to activities of daily living following diagnosis and treatment is the focus of occupational therapy, whose goal is to maximize an individual’s functional capabilities, and promote independence and safe functioning in self-care.
Patients with a diagnosis of any type of cancer often suffer a decrease in their ability to perform hygiene activities (washing and dressing), as well as decreased functional mobility, decreased ability and a decreased tolerance for activities.
Occupational therapy helps cancer patients learn new ways of performing activities, including the use of assistive devices to increase the ability to carry through with these activities. Each treatment plan and session is tailored to the patient’s needs, desired outcomes and capabilities.
Instruction in energy conservation techniques and family education are also provided in order to assist patients in independent living upon their return home.
Community Medical Center boasts a team of well-seasoned occupational therapists who possess expertise that spans the continuum of care – from having up to 20 years of experience in acute care to being highly skilled in home care and outpatient services.
Physical Therapy for Oncology Patients
Physical therapy for cancer patients is geared toward improving functional mobility and the ability to ambulate, as well as increased endurance for activities in daily living.
An important component of individualized therapy is patient and family education in reducing pain and discomfort through instruction in positioning techniques, as well as pressure and pain relief. Exercise is incorporated into the plan of care to optimize a patient’s strength for activity, as well as the use of assistive devices as appropriate in all therapeutic regimens.
Community Medical Center has one of the largest physical therapy staffs in acute care in New Jersey. Services are provided seven days a week by experienced therapists who specialize in geriatrics, pediatrics, lymphedema treatment, vestibular dysfunction, as well as wound care.
Speech Therapy for Oncology Patients
Community Medical Center’s Department of Rehabilitation Services provides a full range of services for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of dysphagia — difficulty in swallowing that may affect a person’s ability to manage saliva, liquids or food. People with cancer of the head and neck may have this problem.
Dysphagia, pronounced “dis FAY jee uh,” can be related to problems in the mouth (oral dysphagia), throat (pharyngeal dysphagia), esophagus (esophageal dysphagia) or a combination of these locations.
At Community, speech-language pathologists are specially skilled in a variety of techniques and exercises that are tailored to a person’s particular swallowing problems.
Following a full dysphagia evaluation, which may include a videofluoroscopic swallowing study performed in conjunction with a radiologist, treatment may consist of therapeutic exercises, diet texture changes and/or the use of compensatory strategies to facilitate safe, efficient swallowing and the maintenance of adequate nutrition.
VitalStim Therapy Program
VitalStim therapy is recommended for patients suffering from oropharyngeal dysphagia. People with dysphagia have difficulty in swallowing — a condition that can be as mild as swallowing foods and liquids to the complete inability to eat or drink anything by mouth. A large number of head and neck cancer patients are affected by dysphagia.
Community Medical Center’s speech-language pathologists are certified in VitalStim — a Food and Drug Administration-approved therapy that uses specially designed electrodes applied to the throat muscles in the front of the neck to stimulate the inactive muscles and promote swallowing.
This is not a painful procedure. Specially trained Vitalstim-certified speech therapists work with patients to help “re-educate” the muscles” that have been affected.