Are you about to receive or have you received chemotherapy? Start exercising!
Physical therapy is one of the most effective treatments for peripheral neurotoxicity in patients who have received various chemotherapy agents.
Physical therapists hold a unique position in contributing to the assessment, prevention, and treatment of chemotherapy-related peripheral neuropathy, according to a study.
Physical therapy for neurotoxicity includes exercises, such as stretching and balance exercises, and manual therapy.
Evaluation of neuropathy should include sensory scoring, objective assessment of the extent of affected limbs, as well as measurement of one’s physical condition in static and dynamic balance and elements of function.
The treatment of peripheral neuropathy concerns sensorimotor, mobility, strength, balance, and focused endurance interventions, with parallel exercise at home, which includes aerobic training.
Researchers believe that physical therapy should be initiated before chemotherapy begins. Starting physical therapy before chemotherapy can increase tolerance to chemotherapy, increase patients’ energy levels, and help them maintain an exercise program during chemotherapy.
A few words about peripheral neuropathy in chemotherapy:
Peripheral neuropathy is a common neurotoxicity, which can limit the administration of chemotherapy. Factors that may increase the risk of neuropathy include age, any pre-existing neuropathy, smoking history, and more.
Symptoms are numbness in the limbs, hands and/or feet, burning, hypoesthesia, pain, weakness of the lower limbs and other less common symptoms.
More severe problems can make everyday life difficult and limit daily activities such as sewing a button or writing, while hindering the ability to work as a hairdresser, surgeon, artist, musician, and other such professions. This reduces the patient's independence and limits the quality of life. Also, patients may lose their job.
Source: Stoller S., et al (2023), 31:293. Framework to leverage physical therapists for the assessment and treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neurotoxicity (CIPN).