Cancer Rehabilitation: A New Frontier for ACRM

Submitted by: Nicole L. Stout, DPT, LexicaMED LLC; Julie Silver, MD, Harvard Medical School; Vishwa Raj, MD, Carolinas Rehabilitation Hospital

In the fall of 2013, the Board of Governors approved the formation of a Cancer Rehabilitation Networking Group as a component of ACRM. This group will serve ACRM members by providing educational opportunities and networking activities related to cancer rehabilitation with consideration for functional, cognitive, and psychosocial issues for patients with cancer and cancer survivors. ...

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Cancer is a prevalent disease with approximately 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women impacted by a diagnosis at some point in their lifetime. Survival rates for cancer continue to rise, but as more patients survive and do so over a longer period of the lifespan, a host of side effects and late effects of disease treatment negatively impact function in a majority of survivors.

Cancer–related functional impairments are common and persistent in this growing population and there is a need for greater resources from the rehabilitation community to support this unique population. Considering the aging population demographic of the United States, it is projected that the rehabilitation needs of patients with cancer will continue to grow over the coming decade.

In response to this growing need, ACRM has taken a significant step towards meeting the rehabilitation needs of the cancer population through the creation of a Cancer Rehabilitation Networking Group (CRNG). The CRNG is co-chaired by Julie Silver, MD from Harvard Medical School and Vishwa Raj, MD from Carolinas Rehabilitation Hospital. Nicole Stout, DPT serves as secretary.

Nicole L. Stout, DPT, LexicaMED LLC; Julie Silver, MD, Harvard Medical School; Vishwa Raj, MD, Carolinas Rehabilitation Hospital

Nicole L. Stout, DPT, LexicaMED LLC; Julie Silver, MD, Harvard Medical School; Vishwa Raj, MD, Carolinas Rehabilitation Hospital

Environmental Scan Including Survey of ACRM Members

Since the group’s inception, this interdisciplinary team has initiated an environmental scan that included a survey of ACRM members. The following needs and opportunities were identified:

  • Seek out and promote initiatives in cancer rehabilitation research around the United States and abroad and promote collaborations among those involved in research.
  • Facilitate research and clinical collaborations that are interdisciplinary, encompass all rehabilitation settings, and consider the lifespan of the patient.
  • Support academic endeavors, focused on cancer rehabilitation, and collate and disseminate resources to support such endeavors.
  • Foster workforce development and support clinical practice in cancer rehabilitation.
  • Address emerging policy issues and provide resources to support the interests of cancer rehabilitation professionals and patients.

The purpose of the CRNG is to disseminate information that provides an evidence base for cancer rehabilitation that will in turn support optimal health outcomes. The CRNG will focus its efforts on research, education, and policy initiatives in order to meet the needs of the community of cancer rehabilitation providers, the patient served, and society at large. We envision developing strong internal collaborations with the ACRM community and striving to engage external collaborations with oncology stakeholders around the world including: CARF International, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and others.

At the upcoming ACRM Annual Conference in Toronto, there will be non-stop content on cancer rehabilitation along with over a dozen poster presentations. The diverse programming topics in oncology include: inpatient cancer rehabilitation, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and balance issues, rehabilitation models of care, cognitive and behavioral rehabilitation interventions, management of the critically ill oncology patient, as well as professional development programming and much more. There are also two pre-conference sessions dedicated to cancer rehabilitation, providing an excellent immersion into the area of practice.

Come to the Inaugural Business & Networking Meeting Please join us at our first CRNG business and networking meeting on Thursday, 9 October at the ACRM Annual Conference from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm to meet colleagues interested in cancer rehabilitation.

See the program At-A-Glance at www.ACRM.org/at-a-glance for the Cancer Rehabilitation track schedule.

We are currently looking for members to engage with the group and welcome those who would like to volunteer to participate on a research, education or policy committee. To learn about ways to participate, please contact:

As our website continues to develop, look for resources and information to help support your practice and research with the cancer population. Learn more about the new Cancer Rehabilitation Networking Group and sign up to join us at www.ACRM.org/cancer. Once you join, you will periodically receive information from the group about upcoming events, and programs. Please also share this link with colleagues who may be interested in joining the group and receiving information.

We are grateful to the ACRM Board of Governors for recognizing this important, emerging area of rehabilitation practice and for enabling this interdisciplinary group to come together to improve care for persons diagnosed with cancer. We look forward to meeting with our colleagues in Toronto.