Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Program | MedStar Health
A MedStar Health physical therapist works with a patient during a therapy session.

At MedStar Health, our comprehensive breast cancer rehabilitation program is designed to help you feel and move the way you did before cancer. 

When people think of breast cancer treatments, they typically think of breast surgery or chemotherapy. Breast cancer rehabilitation is often overlooked, but it plays a vital role in helping you regain strength as you heal. You may benefit from rehabilitation care at any point throughout your journey in battling breast cancer, and we're here for you when you do.

Our team of highly-specialized physiatrists and physical and occupational therapists work collaboratively with your cancer care team to personalize a therapy plan that will help you achieve your goals, whether that involves throwing a ball with your grandchild or returning to work. Our goal is to help:

  • Ease your discomfort
  • Restore your range of motion
  • Improve your physical strength
  • Minimize or manage your risk of lymphedema
  • Reclaim your pre-cancer independence

Program highlights

Specialized breast cancer rehabilitation close to home

Whether you were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, are currently being treated for breast cancer, or are a breast cancer survivor, our experienced team can help you address the physical and cognitive side effects of breast cancer treatment. With specialty training in breast cancer rehabilitation, our education and experience enables us to help you overcome challenges associated with cancer treatment and return to the activities you enjoy. Your rehabilitation treatment plan will be tailored to your needs and goals and may involve:

  • Exercise and fitness programs
  • Lymphedema (swelling) management services
  • Pain management
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Prosthetics and orthotics
  • And more

Our rehabilitation experts are dedicated to empowering you to manage any side effects independently. We do this through education that teaches you:

  • Exercises that can help your body heal after surgery
  • Posture and breathing exercises
  • Strategies to prevent lymphedema
  • Screening methods that can help you detect lymphedema early so you can respond quickly
  • How to safely and comfortably return to your normal routine

For your convenience, our breast cancer rehabilitation services are located throughout the region at our hospitals and various outpatient offices in your community.

 

Managing side effects after breast cancer surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy

Surgery can be lifesaving, but if you've undergone a mastectomy, axillary dissection, or reconstructive procedure, you may experience uncomfortable side effects. After breast cancer treatment, it's not uncommon to have pain, swelling, and/or stiffness in the chest or shoulder. Our physical and occupational therapy services will help alleviate discomfort while also helping you return to your highest level of function.

You don't have to wait until after surgery to start rehabilitation care with our physical therapists. Through our breast cancer rehabilitation program, we can meet with you before surgery to get a baseline of your:

  • Daily function, needs, and goals
  • Posture
  • Flexibility and strength
  • Limb girth measurements

This information can help us proactively prepare your body for surgery and inform your rehabilitation treatment plan after surgery.

Other cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can also lead to unwanted side effects, such as fatigue. In addition, some patients undergoing chemotherapy may experience tingling and pain in the hands and feet (called neuropathy) and/or cognitive impairment described as mental cloudiness. Physical and occupational therapy can help to manage these symptoms at any stage of treatment so you feel your best.

 

Preventing or managing lymphedema

Nearly 20 percent of patients with breast cancer develop lymphedema, which occurs when your lymph vessels can't adequately drain toxins and other waste from your body's tissues. At MedStar Health, our surgeons are pioneers in eliminating the risk of lymphedema through surgical techniques, and our physical therapists take a proactive approach to preventing lymphedema. However, if you develop lymphedema, we are experts in helping you manage the common condition and restore your quality of life using a comprehensive approach that may include:

  • Manual lymphatic therapy
  • Gradient compression bandaging of the limb
  • Fitness programs for flexibility and strength
  • Aerobic and conditioning exercises
  • Therapy for frozen or weakened shoulder or other muscle imbalances
  • Long term management of lymphedema symptoms
  • Assisting with garment fitting and pneumatic compression pump needs with local vendors as indicated

 

Specialty services to treat you as a whole person

All treatment plans involve exercise, gentle conditioning, and stretching to improve your strength and restore function, balance, and stamina. We also offer an evidence-based strength training program called Strength After Breast Cancer for patients interested in regaining strength to their fullest potential. Because we believe in treating you as a whole person, we offer a range of other specialty services to help the healing process. These may include:

  • Psychological counseling
  • Pain management/acupuncture
  • Scar management
  • Integrative medicine
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Stress management
  • Prosthetic, clothing, and personal image options
 

Looking for expert cancer care?

With multiple locations throughout the region, patients have access to many of the nation’s renowned cancer specialists offering high quality care, second opinions and a chance for better outcomes close to where they live and work. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), serves as the research engine allowing patients access to clinical trials that often lead to breakthroughs in cancer care.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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MedStar Health Physical Therapy

With more than 50 locations throughout the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia region, MedStar Health Physical Therapy offers convenient, comprehensive, quality rehabilitative care delivered by skilled therapists. Contact us today at 844-91-GETPT.

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