Cancer Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating, and treatment can be brutal. In the past, you would have been advised to rest and take it easy, avoiding physical exertion at all costs while you undergo chemo and other therapies to get well again. But we now understand that physical exercise can be highly beneficial, both during and after cancer treatment.

Cancer and Survival

Cancer is defined as the growth of abnormal cells within the body that can interfere with and destroy normal healthy cells. Cancer causes reduced function of the affected systems and body parts, and it can sometimes lead to death.

It is estimated that around 40% of the US population will be affected by cancer in some way during our lifetimes — either by contracting the disease itself, or by watching a loved one battle the disease and the side effects of treatment.

The good news is that the survival rate for cancer patients has been steadily going up since the early 1990s, and ongoing research holds promise for a continued upward trajectory.

However, the side effects of cancer and its various treatments can take a toll on your body, leaving you weakened and depleted. Physical therapy can help you combat cancer’s side effects and take control of your health again.


Side Effects of Cancer and Cancer Treatments

Depending on its location and type, cancer can affect multiple organ systems, creating a downward spiral of health problems that grow more complex and life-threatening by the day. Chemotherapy, radiation and pharmaceutical interventions carry with them their own side effects, ravaging your body and leaving you exhausted.

Common side effects of cancer treatments include:

  • fatigue
  • motor impairments
  • sensory deficits
  • muscle pain
  • edema (swelling)
  • neuropathies
  • balance deficits
  • cognitive changes
  • anxiety and depression
  • Post radiation plexopathy
  • lymphedima

Oncology rehabilitation is designed to help you cope with the side effects of cancer treatment, and to help restore motor, neural, mental and physical function. In short, cancer physical therapy can help you survive the side effects of treatment and get back to feeling healthy and energetic again.


Benefits of Oncology Physical Therapy for Cancer Patients

The American Cancer Society has recommended that both cancer patients undergoing treatment and cancer survivors should participate in regular physical activity to reduce fatigue, boost energy and increase their ability to perform normal everyday activities. Research has shown that exercise can actually improve your chances of surviving cancer and can reduce or prevent multiple cancer-related problems.

A physical therapist will evaluate your needs and prescribe an individualized treatment plan that will help you heal and restore normal function, much more quickly than you would on your own.

Your therapist can help you:

  • Overcome pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle spasms with manual therapies and technological interventions.
  • Increase your aerobic capacity and boost your energy levels.
  • Increase your bone mineral density, which often suffers from cancer treatments.
  • Reduce, control, and prevent lymphedema and swelling through massage, movement therapy and compression.
  • Improve coordination and balance.
  • Increase strength and range of motion through exercise and stretching.
  • Reduce brain fog and improve cognition.
  • Improve your capacity to perform everyday activities.

Cancer Physical Therapy and Rehab in NYC

Despite the devastation cancer brings into the lives of millions, survival rates are rising, and physical therapy can help improve your odds. Oncology rehab can be an important weapon in fighting cancer and the side effects of treatment.

The cancer treatment specialists at NYDNRehab are trained and qualified to work with cancer patients and cancer survivors. We view each patient as a unique individual, and our treatments are customized to meet your needs.

Due to our expertise in diagnostic ultrasonography, ultrasound guided dry needling, DNS ( Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization) method and C.A.R.E.N (Computer assisted Rehabilitation Environment) we are the leading facility in the US for treatment of post-radiation balance loss and shoulder/neck pain related to brachial plexitis. We also use DD Robotech artificial intelligence to restore the important connection between your brain and musculoskeletal system, so you can move with optimal ease and efficiency

Contact NYDNRehab today, and fight back against cancer and its side effects, so you can return to a normal healthy lifestyle.


About the Author

Dr. Lev Kalika is clinical director of NYDNRehab, located in Manhattan. Lev Kalika is the author of multiple medical publications and research, and an international expert in the field of rehabilitative sonography, ultrasound guided dry needling and sports medicine Dr. Kalika works with athletes, runners, dancers and mainstream clients to relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, enhance performance and minimize the risk of injuries. His clinic features some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the world, rarely found in a private clinic.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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