Getting well: Cancer rehab

BY GUEST
PUBLISHED: DECEMBER 28, 2010
Good question, ask your oncologist! It should be.

How is that changing?

The rehabilitation community is becoming much more award of the need for advocacy for cancer rehab. Survivors are beginning to realize that is can be made available to them if they insist on it. My own work involved helping hospitals, cancer centers, group practices and individual clinicians develop and implement cancer rehab services. You can find out more about my work at www.OncRehab.com or www.JulieSilverMD.com.

What can I do to help?

Talk to the members of your oncology team and ask what rehab services are available to you and other cancer survivors. Tell them to check out www.OncRehab.com for information about the STAR (Survivorship Training and Rehab) Program. Don't accept "rehab" as a referral to an exercise physiologist or acupuncturist or any other provider who is not an expert specifically in rehabilitation medicine. Keep in mind that insurance companies pay for clinical care that is provided by rehabilitation experts such as physiatrists and physical/occupational/speech therapists. They don't pay for cancer rehab that is not provided by trained clinicians in rehabilitation medicine.

How can I find cancer rehab if my health care providers don't know where to refer me?

Contact the American Academy of PM&R for a referral to a physiatrist (www.aapmr.org). Other cancer rehab experts can be found through their professional associations (physical therapists: www.apta.org; occupational therapists: www.aota.org; speech and language pathologists: www.asha.org). Keep in mind when contacting any of these professional organizations that not all rehabilitation professionals work with cancer survivors. Specifically ask for information about those who do. Also ask your physiatrist or therapist about his/her experience in cancer rehab.

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
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