The cancer care team: Physiotherapist

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Depending on your cancer treatment, you may need to see a physiotherapist to help you recover. Find out what physiotherapy is and how a physiotherapist can help you.

Key points

  • A physiotherapist is someone who helps to treat side effects of disease or injuries through movement, special exercises and manual therapy.
  • As part of your health-care team, a physiotherapist can help you regain your strength, movement or flexibility, manage pain, improve overall fitness and more.

What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a way of treating some of the side effects of diseases or weaknesses in the body through physical remedies such as movement, special exercises or manual therapy. A person who practices physiotherapy is called a physiotherapist (although they are sometimes called a physical therapist or PT).

Physiotherapists are experts in how the body moves. They work with people to help them recover from illnesses such as cancer and its treatments and improve how people perform day-to-day activities such as walking or sitting.

A physiotherapist may be part of the health-care team that you see frequently. If a physiotherapist isn’t currently a part of your team, you or your family can ask your health-care team to recommend one.

How can a physiotherapist help me now?

Cancer can change how your body works and how it feels.

A physiotherapist can help you find safe and comfortable ways to be active both during and after treatment. They will help you make a plan that is designed for your body, your needs and your goals. They can also find ways to help you manage pain.

The physiotherapist will consider:

  • the type of cancer you have
  • how treatments are affecting your body
  • your current strength, flexibility, balance, endurance and ability to do your everyday activities
  • the types and amount of exercise you were doing before cancer
  • your likes and interests
  • your goals

Whether you want to re-gain some muscle, return to school after surgery, or play soccer or the drums again, a physiotherapist can come up with an exercise program that is designed just for you.

If you have a specific problem, for example, stiffness after surgery or weakness after chemotherapy, a physiotherapist can give you specific exercises to do. They may show you how to use equipment such as weights, therapy balls and treadmills. They can also help you to select or adapt sports and other physical activities to improve your strength, fitness and overall abilities.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019