ReBuilder® Newsletter With Dr. David Phillips, MD, Ph.D.

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Cancer, Neuropathy, Exercise, and the ReBuilder

July 07, 20204 min read

Cancer, Neuropathy, Exercise, and the ReBuilder

We could all use a little more exercise. Getting fit is a big lifestyle change though for cancer patients, and it could actually have a huge impact on their treatment and recovery. Researchers from one British cancer charity found millions of cancer patients just aren't getting the physical rehabilitation that they need once their treatment is over. Cancer Center treatments of America and Philadelphia has integrated rehab into the mix. And Lindsay Nagle joins us now. Thank you so much for joining us.

Yeah. We have to recognize that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and they're among the millions of survivors living in the US with the effects of their treatments. So Lindsay, what kind of problems are some of these cancer survivors left to deal with?

Some of the things that we see most commonly is a neuropathy or a numbness and tingling in the hands and the feet that can lead to decreased balance or an increased risk of falls. And then in about 70 to a hundred percent of patients, they report just an overall feeling of tiredness or fatigue.

So dealing with all these things that you've suggested, the soreness, the stiffness, neuropathy, what really is the importance of exercise? What role does that play?

So exercise, when you exercise, it releases endorphins and it gives you a boost of energy. So it helps with that fatigue. It's knowing how much and what intensity to do exercise.

Now, if a cancer patient is already dealing with fatigue, won't exercise, just kind of wear them out. I mean, how do you know the balance, I guess?

So at Cancer Treatment Center of America, we have a program called Motion for Life, and it focuses on those principles of exercise and knowing how much we recommend or try to build our patients up so that they can do 20 minutes, four to six times a week of just a fairly light to somewhat hard level of exercise.

When you're looking at a cancer patient for the first time, they come into you for evaluation, how do you know what's right for whom?

So we interview them, we ask them questions, ask them their fatigue level, ask them if they're having that numbness and tingling. And from there we monitor their vitals, heart rate, blood pressure, things like that, and get them started on an exercise program.

And that's very important for a lot of people. I had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and that's what she missed the most was being able to get that exercise. It gives you that boost of energy and research continues to show that exercise during cancer treatment helps fight that cancer and then exercise after helps prevent the recurrence. So it really is important, but you can't just jump into it. Even when you don't have cancer, you shouldn't just jump to it.

So what's the most important thing to know before you start that exercise regimen?

We recommend that if you're trying to start some sort of new aerobic or any kind of exercise that you speak with your physician and you get cleared so that you know it's safe for you to do.

Now, you mentioned neuropathy. That's a big problem for cancer patients going through chemotherapy, that tingling, that numbness. What would you say, how should that be addressed in terms of coping with that?

At CTCI, we use a machine called a ReBuilder. It's a form of electric stem. It's not painful. We put pads on the hands or on the feet and it helps to help with that numbness and tingling. In addition, we do balance exercises to decrease that risk for falls.

And so how does this work?

So it's just a simple machine. Adhesive pads get put on the hands or on the feet and you turn it on. It runs for half an hour. It's a form electrical stem.

So tell us where can you go to find out more information about oncology rehabilitation?

If people would like to know, they can log on to and the phone number is 1-800-333.

Thank you very much, Linda Nagel for joining us. Thank you. Thanks for providing us with that. Very, very important information.

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