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Rehabilitation services for patients in the Cancer Center

Physical activity and maintaining functional independence is important throughout the cancer treatment spectrum. Physical activity has been associated with reduced risk of developing some types of cancer, and has been shown to help patients maintain wellness during and after cancer treatment. Research has also shown that maintaining physical function is a key component to the health and quality of life of people going through cancer treatment.

Being diagnosed with cancer is a time of change, with many people seeking opportunities for improved health and well-being which can include continuing to be physically active, starting new health habits, or maintaining physical and cognitive function needed for daily tasks. Unfortunately, many of the common side effects of cancer or its treatment can be barriers to reaching those goals. These barriers can be overcome with the help of a licensed physical, occupational, and/or speech therapist.

We have brought together experts in their field to provide you with individualized and evidence-based therapies to get you back to the activities you love. Our compassionate rehabilitation team will be there for you throughout your cancer journey and help you achieve your goals.

Getting started with oncology rehabilitation

A physician referral is required for the initial evaluation. Please call 541-706-6335 with any questions about how therapy can help you. To schedule an appointment, call 541-706-5800, ext. 3265. Plan on arriving 15 minutes early for registration with your prescription for therapy, current insurance card, current list of medications and your questions.

Rehabilitation services are currently available in our outpatient clinic in Bend.

Therapies offered

The physical therapists at the St. Charles Cancer Center have specialized knowledge of cancer diseases and treatments to customize a program to get you back to better mobility.

Physical therapy focuses on regaining skills to help you move better, whether that is getting you back to walking so that you can do your own grocery shopping or back to your exercise routine so you can train for that next triathlon. Our physical therapists have an intimate knowledge of cancer disease and treatments to customize a program to meet your goals. 

Our physical therapy team can help with:

  • Physical performance-based assessments of physical function and fitness

  • Body composition assessments - initial onset and recurrence of some cancers have been linked to excess body fat

  • Strength training to help with fatigue and to help prevent bone loss

  • Aerobic exercise training to help manage fatigue and decrease body fat

  • Lymphedema risk reduction education

  • Post-surgical and post-radiation scar management to reduce pain and improve joint mobility

  • Balance training and fall risk reduction education

  • Management of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy symptoms

  • Mobility assistive device assessment (i.e. cane, walker, wheelchair)

  • Patient and caregiver education

Our physical therapists at the St. Charles Cancer Center can help ease your lymphedema discomfort.

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a troubling complication that can develop after certain cancers or its treatment. It is characterized by swelling of the arm, leg, pelvic region, or head and neck that develops when surgery or radiation treatments affect the mechanics of the lymphatic system. The swelling experienced by a patient with lymphedema can result in discomfort, loss of range of motion, difficulty walking and difficulty with daily activities. The affected areas are also at risk for infection that can lead to serious complications. The risk for developing lymphedema is lifelong and if lymphedema develops it can be a chronic condition greatly impacting a patient’s physical and psychosocial health.

How can therapy help with lymphedema discomfort?

Lymphedema therapy aims to decrease the impact and severity of lymphedema through early intervention and patient education. Improving and controlling lymphedema utilizes a combination of manual lymphatic drainage techniques along with compression bandages and/or compression devices. Patient education and training in self-care is critical to success and transitioning the patient to independent management of their lymphedema after the initial intensive phase of treatment.  
A certified lymphedema therapist can best manage this complex condition and uses the following principals: 

  • Education

  • Exercise

  • Manual lymph drainage (MLD)

  • Compression bandaging

  • Compression garments

  • Self-lymphedema management

  • Soft tissue mobilization

Our physical therapists at the St. Charles Cancer Center can help ease your lymphedema discomfort.

Occupational therapy for patients undergoing cancer treatment

Occupational therapists help with education and training needs for improved ability to do the things you want and need to do by maximizing your independence, safety and quality of life. Intervention methods can be directed to improving function, compensating for loss of skills, adaptation of tasks and environments, and or prevention of further loss with the focus on the patients strengths, goals and support systems. 

Occupational therapists are holistic and systematic in their approach to assist patients and families in collaboration with our team of health care providers in the following areas:

  • Self-care and home care activities

  • Fatigue management

  • Cognitive strategies

  • Vision

  • Equipment

  • Orthotics

  • Physical performance

  • Environment modification

  • Social and emotional performance

  • Sexuality, intimacy and self-image

  • Family training

  • Lifestyle management

  • Lymphedemarisk reduction education

Speech therapists help patients in our Cancer Center with swallowing and communication impairments.

Speech-language pathology focuses on swallowing and communication impairments. These impairments can impact people who are being treated for various types of cancer.  People who are treated for head and neck cancer may experience negative effects to the ability to chew, swallow, speak, and make a voice. When undergoing chemotherapy, temporary to long-term changes in the ability to think clearly, sometimes referred to as “chemo brain” can be experienced. Treatments for malignancies in the brain can impact swallowing, thinking and communication. Our speech therapists work together with our physical therapy and occupational therapy team to mobilize scar tissue and strengthen the muscles for safe swallowing. In addition, our speech therapists can provide language and cognitive retraining, and help patients use communication devices and organizational tools. Our speech therapy team can help with:

  • Patient and family education
  • Swallowing, communication, and cognitive assessments
  • Prophylactic and restorative swallowing exercises
  • Dietary modification recommendations
  • Speech therapy
  • Voice therapy
  • Laryngectomy care including tracheoesophageal prosthesis management: These are services for people before and after surgical removals of part or all of the larynx (“voice box”).
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): This includes devices like voice amplifiers and tablets the can be programmed to speak.