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Cancer & Balance

We enjoyed presenting on physical balance related to cancer at the CARE Fair at Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute yesterday. Here is a summary of what we discussed in case you missed it!

Why Physical Therapy for the Oncology Patient?

Cancer treatment can have vast and profound effects physically, emotionally and mentally. Physical therapy can help manage the issues that arise from surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy as well as improve quality of life for survivors, no matter what stage of the journey you are on.

How Can Cancer Increase My Risk for Falls?

- Numbness and tingling in the feet after chemotherapy, known as chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy causes difficulty with balancing. Balance systems rely on good sensory information to work at their peak.

- Loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, can be a major side effect of cancer treatment and inactivity. Weakness increases the chances of having a fall.

- Certain types of cancer and treatments affect the inner ear, known as the Vestibular System. This causes dizziness and difficulties with balance.

- Metal Fog, sometimes referred to as "Chemo-Brain" can make balance challenging in complex or unfamiliar environments.

- Unexpected drops in blood pressure upon standing, known as orthostatic hypotension, can result in a loss of balance and falls.

How Can We Help with Balance?

We use evidenced-based exercise treatments to improve the above items in a significant way. For example, the vestibular system (inner ear) and somatosensory system (related to the neuropathy explained above) can both improve performance via targeted balance retraining. Exercise is medicine!

In Addition to Balance, What Else Can We Help With?

- Managing symptoms of Cancer Related Fatigue

- Reducing Pain

- Improving Strength

- Addressing Loss of Bone Density through Exercise

- Shoulder Dysfunction as it relates specifically to Breast Cancer

- Improving Mood through Exercise

Cancer survivorhip is increasing due to early detection and advances in medical technology and treatment. Cancer rehabilitation is a growing area of medicine due to the increase in number of cancer survivors. It's never too late for hope, and it's never too late to begin rehabilitation. We look forward to working with you if ever you needs us.

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