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New Oncology Rehabilitation Program Puts Allegheny Health Network Cancer Patients on the Road to a Healthy, Active Survivorship
Trained Oncology Rehab Specialists Put Focus on “Prehab,” Helping Prevent Physical Impairment Caused by Cancer and its Treatment
PITTSBURGH, PA - Allegheny Health Network (AHN) has launched a new Oncology Rehabilitation Program, working with patients before, during and after cancer treatment, in order to give them the best functionality and quality of life throughout their survivorship.
Patients may visit any one of 10 rehab centers located throughout western Pennsylvania, each of which is staffed by a physical or occupational therapist specifically trained in oncology rehab. In addition, AHN is the first in the region to offer specialized oncology rehab services in patients’ homes through its Healthcare@Home service.
Cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, as well as the disease process itself, can leave patients with reduced physical functioning and quality of life. “Prehab” – starting a rehabilitation program even before treatment begins - can help prevent physical impairments, and therapy during and after treatment can help control and relieve symptoms.
“At Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, our focus is not just on the disease but on the whole patient – their physical and mental well-being, and quality of life,” said David Parda, MD, Chair, AHN Cancer Institute. “Our new enhanced Oncology Rehabilitation Program will help our patients recover from the aftereffects of treatment and return to the lives they enjoyed prior to their diagnoses.”
“When someone is diagnosed with cancer, their minds are focused on planning their treatment and fighting their disease,” said Judith Schaad, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, Director, AHN Oncology Rehab. “By involving our patients in ‘prehab,’ we put them on a path to healthy, active lives post-treatment.”
77-year-old Elaine Callihan of Chicora knows well the value of physical therapy for cancer patients. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago, she was also still suffering the after-effects of a bad vehicle accident. Her AHN surgeon, Michael Cowher, MD, suggested she build up her strength before surgery through AHN’s Oncology Rehabilitation Program, and so Mrs. Callihan began a daily regimen of wall slides, shoulder stretches and elastic band exercises.
After her surgery in July, she saw Ms. Schaad to map out her recovery. She kept exercising daily, and has seen the difference it’s made. At Halloween, she had difficulty picking up her grandson in his costume, but by Thanksgiving she was able to lift him easily.
“I’m a firm believer in physical therapy,” Mrs. Callihan said. “It continues to help me keep my strength going.”
Twelve experienced AHN rehabilitation professionals who have completed intensive training in oncology rehab are ready to help cancer patients recover from impairments such as fatigue, lymphedema and impaired balance, mobility, strength and daily living skills. These specialized oncology rehab services can benefit patients diagnosed with any type of cancer that results in physical dysfunction.
Lymphedema is a common, troubling, and often long-lasting side effect of breast cancer treatment. Rehabilitation therapists can reduce a woman’s chance of developing lymphedema by taking arm measurements prior to treatment – so that swelling can be detected in its early stages – and prescribing strength and stretching exercises that can be continued post-treatment.
AHN locations with trained oncology rehab personnel on staff are:
Bloomfield: Human Motion Rehab, 5140 Liberty Ave.
North Side: Federal North Human Motion Rehab, 1307 Federal St.
Squirrel Hill: Jefferson Hospital Outpatient Services, 4584 Browns Hill Road
Monroeville: Human Motion Rehab, 2550 Mosside Blvd.
Natrona Heights: Allegheny Valley Hospital Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, 1620 Pacific Ave.
Wexford: Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion, 12311 Perry Highway
Robinson Township: Human Motion Rehab, 133 Church Hill Road
Bethel Park: Bethel Park Health + Wellness Pavilion, 1000 Higbee Dr.
Jefferson Hills: Jefferson Physical and Aquatic Center, 550 Coal Valley Road
Erie: St. Vincent Rehab Solutions, Sassafras Medical Building, 1920 Sassafras St.
For more information on any of the sites, contact Kylie Collins at 412-854-7010.
For information on receiving oncology rehab services at home, contact AHN Healthcare@Home at 800.381.8080.