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Rehabilitation is a vital part of cancer treatment

18.12.2020

Today, the importance of rehabilitation is generally recognized and acknowledged. It is seen as a key element essential to achieve the best possible treatment result having a huge impact on the recovery time and even the expected response to treatment.

At its modern stage, health care aims not only to cure the disease, but also to offer a patient a full recovery and return to high quality life. Clinic Helena, a leading private medical center specializing in the treatment of breast cancer and reconstructive surgeries, shares this approach and considers rehabilitation to be much more than just the final stage of the main treatment. Rehabilitation takes an important place throughout the entire treatment from diagnosis to a return to normal life.

Comprehensive approach to rehabilitation

Clinic Helena has developed its rehabilitation programs based on a long-term cooperation between oncologists, surgeons and rehabilitation therapists:

  • Stage-by-stage rehabilitation: no need to wait until the end of treatment.
  • Integrated, systemic and multidisciplinary approach: rehabilitation will not only speed up the physical recovery, but also help with psychological and social adaptation, as well as aesthetics and sexology.
  • Customized rehabilitation program: each program is developed individually for the patient, taking into account their condition and the stage of treatment. In addition to rehabilitation in a specialized center in Finland, it is possible to continue classes with the doctor online from home.

Rehabilitation programs developed by Clinic Helena’s specialists for breast cancer patients are not limited to physical exercise. They comprise several components, including:

  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Psychological rehabilitation
  • Dietetics
  • Lymphatic therapy
  • Pregnancy planning (for patients planning to have a baby in the future)
  • Sexology aspects
  • Aesthetic surgery (if necessary)

Rehabilitation after oncotomy

After the surgery, the patient spends only 1 or 2 days at the clinic and then leaves for outpatient observation. The patient is introduced to the rehabilitation therapist in the post-operative room on the first day after the surgery and further rehabilitation can be continued in the specialized rehabilitation center. The patient can stay in the rehabilitation center together with her family (and even children) – this may be of special importance for patients coming from abroad. There, the patient is under 24/7 supervision of medical specialists who will call the operating surgeon for consultation, if necessary. Rehabilitative exercises are designed to return body mobility. After completing the rehabilitation program and before leaving for home, the patient is examined by the operating surgeon.

 

Rehabilitation during treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy

An important area deserving special attention is rehabilitation during chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The clinic recommends to make a good use of the time between the sessions as rehabilitation programs at this point are designed to help patients undergo treatment more easily and restore strength. Patients undergoing treatment at the Clinic Helena can go to a rehabilitation center in Finland between chemo sessions, and a similar opportunity is available for patients undergoing radiation therapy.

At this stage of rehabilitation, the program includes individual classes and consultations with a physiotherapist; consultations and supervision of a dermatologist, beautician or cosmetologist as well as group and individual physiotherapy exercises with a physiotherapy doctor. An important feature of such rehabilitation is round-the-clock medical assistance nearby: if necessary, specialists of the rehabilitation center are ready to help their patients 24/7. Patients returning home between treatment cycles can continue their online sessions with a rehabilitation therapist at home.

Rehabilitation after breast reconstruction surgery

Doctor Helena Puonti, PhD, breast oncologist and founder of Clinic Helena, regards rehabilitation as one of the most important objectives of the clinic and feels it is her personal mission to return patients to high quality life. In the event of mastectomy, full recovery implies not only a cure for the disease, but also aesthetics aspect. The clinic is proud of Dr. Puonti’s proprietary microneurovascular MS-TRAM reconstruction, enabling to bring back breast sensitivity. Following the reconstructive surgery, the patient spends 3-5 days in the clinic and then can continue rehabilitation for two weeks in the rehabilitation center. If a microsurgical operation was performed, the operating surgeon, Dr. Helena Puonti, visits the patient every day in the rehabilitation center. Apart from that, the patient remains under the supervision of health care professionals providing post-surgery care and a rehabilitation physician draws up a special exercise program to restore mobility.

Rehabilitation for cancer survivors

Several times a year, the rehabilitation center runs a specialized group program for breast cancer survivors whose treatment is over. They are designed to facilitate patients’ consultations with doctors and to provide an opportunity for friendly and comfortable communication with other women who have similar experiences.

Upon arrival at the rehabilitation center, patients get an appointment with a rehabilitation doctor and physiotherapist. The group program includes informational lectures, individual and group sessions with a physiotherapist, psychotherapist and sexologist as well as art therapy.