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Rehabilitation Post Bone Cancer Treatment

Recovery period needs medical care

Rehabilitation is the treatment given by the skilled health professionals, which is designed specifically for an individual (patient) to help regain physical and emotional strength. The main aim of this programme is to restore a person’s ability to live and work normally and independently. Rehabilitation is an important part of returning to the activities of daily living after bone cancer treatment. Recovery is different for each person, depending on the extent of the disease, the type of treatment and many other factors.

A person with bone cancer may be concerned about the following:

  • muscle weakness
  • difficulty using an upper limb
  • difficulty with a lower limb that may cause problems with walking or balance
  • problems performing activities of daily living
  • Physical rehabilitation

Rehabilitation specialists, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists, help a person recover from bone cancer treatment. The rehabilitation specialists usually meet with the person before treatment to explain what will be involved.

Rehabilitation after surgery

Limb-sparing surgery is more complex than an amputation. While physical rehabilitation is more intense than after an amputation, a person needs rehabilitation regardless of the type of surgery done.

After an amputation involving the leg, the person learns how to use a prosthesis. With proper physiotherapy, most people are often walking again in 3–6 months.

It usually takes a person about 1 year to learn to walk again after limb-sparing surgery involving the leg. Without rehabilitation, the salvaged limb may become useless. The person is taught exercises to do after surgery to help keep muscles around the site of surgery strong and the joints mobile.

Physical therapy exercises help maintain range of motion and strengthen the arms and legs. They are very important for people who have surgery on a limb, especially after limb-sparing surgery or amputation. There may be some activity restrictions after surgery until the area is healed enough to allow weight-bearing exercises or gait training.

Rehabilitation after radiation therapy

During radiation therapy, there is often tissue trauma, as well as inflammation of the tissues. Local inflammation eventually leads to the formation of scar tissue, which can then cause feelings of tissue tightness and loss of mobility and flexibility in the area of radiation.

People treated with radiation therapy for bone cancer in a limb may have joint stiffness, decreased joint motion and loss of muscle strength. It is important to keep using the joint as normally as possible during and after treatment.

Physical therapy helps prevent and minimize disabilities after radiation therapy to a limb. An exercise and range-of-motion program is often started early in the course of treatment.

The best time to start physical therapy treatment is during the early stages of radiation therapy. This will help reduce local inflammation and, the more the inflammation is reduced by physical therapy, the less scar tissue fibrosis there will be further along in the healing process.

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