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The Role of Occupational Therapy in Oncology

The Role of Occupational Therapy in Oncology

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05/23/2012

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Cancer 
is a general term used to describe the abnormal growth o cells in any part o the body. There are more than 100 types o cancer, which may aect specifc tissues, organs, blood, or lymphaticsystems.
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Treatment or cancer commonly includes surgery,chemotherapy, radiation, and/or hormonal therapy. With earlierdetection and improved treatments, there has been a steady increasein the number o cancer survivors over the past decade.
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Cancer orthe treatments involved in one’s care may lead to changes in physical,cognitive, and emotional well-being. Sometimes just doing dailyactivities leaves little energy or leisure, social, or work-related tasks.Occupational therapy practitioners have the knowledge and expertiseto modiy activities and environments to allow individuals to do thethings they want and need to do to maintain quality o lie.
Role o Occupational Therapy
The role o occupational therapy in oncology is “to acilitate and enable an individual patient to achieve maximumunctional perormance, both physically and psychologically, in everyday living skills regardless o his or her lieexpectancy” (p. 75).
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Due to the uniqueness and complexity o human occupation, each individual diagnosed with cancerwill experience dierent limitations in his or her various occupations/roles and restrictions in participation throughout thecourse o the disease, based on liestyle choices.Cancer and its treatment can cause interruptions in daily routines aecting how individuals perorm their sel-care, work,leisure, or social activities. For example, individuals may experience difculty with sel-care activities such as bathing ordressing. Others may experience difculty perorming essential job unctions such as liting, carrying, or having the mentalor physical endurance to work ull time. Some individuals with cancer may experience difculties with leisure activitiessuch as traveling, gardening, or exercising while others may experience difculty socializing with riends and amily.Individuals with cancer may experience these difculties as a result o the disease or rom the eects o its treatment.Common side eects o cancer or its treatment include atigue, pain, weakness, cognitive difculties, anxiety or depression,and changes in sel-esteem or sel-image. Occupational therapy practitioners address these eects through interventionaimed at restoring unction such as developing home exercise programs to improve strength and mobility; modiyingactivities such as teaching individuals ways to conserve energy during important everyday activities; or modiyingenvironments such as the workplace, home, or community.Occupational therapy intervention methods can remediate, compensate, or adapt a client’s abilities to assist him or her inachieving a maximum level o independence and quality o lie. Some examples can include:Management o activities o daily living (ADLs) such as bathing and dressing through adaptations to the activity andenvironment, and/or the use o assistive technology.Liestyle management such as preventative health, improved ftness, etc. This may include education emphasizingthe person’s strengths and positive coping strategies that enable him or her to be in control o liestyle choices.Sleep and atigue management such as education in and demonstration o energy conservation and relaxationmanagement techniques to support health and the ability to participate in meaningul activities.Cognitive strategies to address memory, organizational executive unction defcits, and low-energy tasks that ocuson restoring engagement in daily occupations such as sitting in the park, reading a newspaper, or conversing witha riend.
The Role of Occupational Therapy in
 
Oncology
www.aota.org4720 Montgomery Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814-3425Phone: 301-652-2682 TDD: 800-377-8555 Fax: 301-652-7711
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