Cancer Rehabilitation - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Cancer Patient Stories

Mina Fuller

Mina Fuller

After having a cancerous tumor in her brain removed, Mina experienced a brain injury that left her physically impaired and cognitively disoriented.

Read Mina's patient story

Treatment Location(s)

RIC #1 Rehabilitation Hospital for 23 Years

RIC Cancer RehabilitationMark Huang, MD with RIC Cancer Patient

Cancer Rehabilitation Program

Life doesn't stop for cancer – but cancer changes life. Throughout your cancer experience, it's critical that you maintain the things in life that are important to you – your energy, your activity level, your relationships. In fact, research shows that an active lifestyle including exercise can enhance your body's recovery and contribute to a better quality of life during and after cancer treatment. That's why at the RIC Cancer Rehabilitation Program we directly address your physical, cognitive and emotional concerns caused by the disease and treatment – both during and following acute cancer treatment – to strengthen your return to full ability and enhance your quality of life.

The most advanced cancer care model

Thanks to advances in research, new treatments and early detection, survival rates are steadily increasing. More people than ever before live through cancer – 11 million survivors in the United States alone, according to the American Cancer Society. But this fact brings with it new challenges. For many cancer survivors, including those undergoing treatment, the aggressive, life-saving interventions may take a harsh toll on the human body. So while the fight against cancer is being won, patients may experience debilitating fatigue, pain, joint stiffness, weakness, emotional strain and limited mobility. Other problems may include swallowing difficulty, poor nutrition, skin breakdown, bowel and bladder dysfunction, and lymphedema – a swelling condition.

RIC's Cancer Rehabilitation Program meets the challenges facing modern cancer fighters and survivors by coordinating physical medicine and rehabilitation interventions with acute oncologic care. Your oncology team will work closely with your rehabilitation team. We work collaboratively with the renowned Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and many other major healthcare centers to ensure the continuity of your care. This innovative approach delivers rehabilitation during and after cancer treatment on either an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on your needs. Our program is one of only a few in the country to work with patients during cancer treatment, coordinating rehabilitation around chemotherapy cycles, radiation treatments and surgery. All of our care is grounded in the most current scientific and clinical evidence. As a research institution, we are currently engaged in clinical studies on cancer rehabilitation; you will have access to the latest advances in clinical treatments to restore your highest level of function.

Your wellness is our priority. Throughout cancer treatment and beyond, you can maintain your normal activity level.

Individualized cancer rehabilitation program

Your cancer rehabilitation experience depends on many factors including type of tumor; organs affected; treatment methods such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation; and your individual capabilities and support systems. Your rehabilitation team will develop an individualized program with you to address your functional limitations and concerns, and achieve your personal goals.

Your rehabilitation team will be lead by a physiatrist – a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation – and may include nurses, physical and occupational therapists, pain management specialists, speech-language pathologists, counselors and nutritionists specializing in working with cancer patients. We offer many specialized outpatient services such as our Cancer Rehabilitation Survivor Clinic, Lymphedema Clinic, and recreation and fitness therapy. At RIC, you will find a comprehensive program of rehabilitative care designed specifically to help you regain ability, manage pain and reclaim your quality of life.

With you every step of the way

Mark Huang, MD with RIC Cancer PatientCancer rehabilitation should begin at diagnosis. At your acute care hospital, cancer rehabilitation therapies will help you avoid the fatigue and impairment that often accompany acute oncology treatments. Keeping your energy is vital to retaining your abilities. If you need more comprehensive rehabilitation, you will receive integrated care as an inpatient at RIC's flagship hospital. Here, people with significant functional deficits or general debilitation receive customized intensive therapies and daily physician visits. We also offer day rehabilitation for those who can benefit from coordinated, interdisciplinary intensive therapies; outpatient rehabilitation for those who need therapies to target specific skills; and fitness programs aimed at enhancing your body's recovery and wellness by integrating exercise in your daily life.