A Unique rehabilitation program helps patients regain their lives
It’s a Tuesday afternoon and the sound of Shania Twain’s “I
Feel Like a Woman” is coming from a gym within the St. Jude Centers
for Rehabilitation and Wellness. Inside, Jason Tse, occupational therapist,
is helping Julia Cook Muneer master a new line dance.
But if you look beyond the music and laughter, you’ll see a highly
effective, evidence-based therapy for improving balance and stamina as
well as memory and concentration—areas often affected by chemotherapy
and other cancer treatments.
“Some patients are able to simply step back into life, but others
leave cancer treatment with serious side effects, wondering where they
will find the energy to step out of bed, much less back into their lives,”
explains Jean Dean, PT, who helps lead the widely-respected program. Although
problems with fatigue, weakness, pain, insomnia, depression and incontinence
are common among cancer survivors, programs designed to help are still
rare—and outcomes like those being created at St. Jude are rarer still.
“We see significant improvements in physical and emotional well-being,
as we address each side effect or symptom—whether it’s a swallowing
issue, loss of balance, pain, or anxiety,” explains Jason, who says
the one-on-one therapies are customized to fit a patient’s specific
needs and can benefit those still in treatment as well as those who celebrated
the end of treatment years ago.
The comprehensive program features a multidisciplinary team of oncology
rehabilitation experts who, together, offer the entire range of therapeutic
interventions, from pelvic floor rehabilitation and stress management,
to vocational rehabilitation and neurocognitive recovery.
Julia’s treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma left behind issues with
fatigue, balance, and concentration—all of which have vastly improved
through weekly therapy. “It’s made a tremendous difference,”
says the 61-year-old buyer for a local school district. “The therapy
focuses on my priorities, which on one day might mean improving my ability
to focus at work, while on another, learning how to reduce stress and
According to Sue Potts, PT, Outpatient Therapy Manager, creating a nationally-recognized
rehabilitation program is familiar territory for St. Jude physicians and
staff. “In areas from stroke recovery to sports injuries, we exceed
national benchmarks and create higher standards of care,” Sue says.
“It’s exciting to bring that same expertise to cancer recovery.”
To learn more about the St. Jude Cancer Rehabilitation and Wellness Program,