Physical therapy and exercise are key after breast cancer surgery

In celebration of Physical Therapy Month, Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital's Rehabilitation Department will provide weekly articles throughout October.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in addition to Physical Therapy Month. Physical therapists play an important role in treating women who have experienced breast cancer-related surgery.

Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer may mean a breast biopsy, lymph node biopsy or removal, lumpectomy, mastectomy, breast reconstruction or radiation therapy. Any of these treatments can affect shoulder and arm movement – making it difficult to perform daily activities like bathing, dressing or even combing hair.

No matter the type of breast surgery, it's important to exercise during recovery. However, it is also very important to talk to a doctor before starting any exercise program. He or she may decide it's necessary to refer you to a physical therapist for an evaluation and customized exercise program.

The therapist will perform passive range of motion, slow gentle stretches and massage if needed. As time progresses patients are trained in isometric, or resistance, exercises and active range of motion exercises, with or without the use of equipment. The therapist can also provide education on proper deep breathing and relaxation techniques, and can suggest the adaptive equipment that will best help with daily activities.

Women and men across America are more aware than ever before about breast cancer, its symptoms and effects, and treatment methods and choices. Walking events, support groups, websites, television specials and pink ribbons bring awareness to the masses, along with educating on the increase in treatment options. As a result, people are living longer and focusing on preventative measures.

Join Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital's mammography technician and physical therapy staff when they present the risk factors and treatment options for breast cancer, along with exercises to improve overall health during a FREE presentation Wednesday, Oct. 12. This presentation is in the Trumley Education Center from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information or to register, call 517-543-9575.

REMEMBER: Do not start any exercise program without first talking directly to your doctor.