A Rehab Program That Follows Up On Cancer Treatment

November 17, 2014

Logo for the STAR ProgramPhysical therapist Stephanie Dotson talks with Illinois Public Media's Jim Meadows about the STAR cancer rehabilitation program at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington.

Many hospitals have special units devoted to treating cancer patients. The STAR Program is devoted to providing service to patients after their treatment. Stephanie Dotson oversees the program at OSF St. Joseph. It's used by hospitals and clinics in more than 40 states.

In Illinois, the STAR Program has been adopted by hospitals and clinics in Bloomington/Normal, Pontiac (at OSF St. James/Albrecht Medical Center), Springfield, and in the Peoria, Chicago and St. Louis metro areas.

The STAR Program was originated by Dr. Julie Silver, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and a cancer survivor herself.

Story source: WILL

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Transcript for file: news20141118_starprogram_interview.mp3

00:00:00
F1
We’re able to apply our rehab techniques to help improve their quality of life they may have different symptoms like range of motion issues or memory or concentration issues gay or balance disorders and we as therapists apply those principles to help them improve their quality of life.

00:00:19
M1
Through therapy these physical impairments are they often side effects of the treatment whether surgical or medicines or other sorts of treatments or are they as a result of the cancer they’ve been suffering from.

00:00:33
F1
Typically they’re as a result of the treatment but it could be both you know we see folks who maybe had a mastectomy who have issues with being able to raise their arm or have that range of motion in their shoulder that they’re used to and so they come to C.S. A lot of times they’ll have developed what they call winter Bhima that the inability to move fluid through your body and so they get swelling in their arm their hand and then we’re able to help them through that process so that they can get back to their normal daily activities.

00:01:10
M1
You’re working with an established program.

00:01:13
F1
The Star program so there are certain certain standards you try to meet as part of this program what sort of structure does this give you what the STAR program gives us is that a basis for our knowledge and therapists we know how to improve someone to arrange emotion we have one thirty minute specialist that can work with folks with one of the team but we didn’t really have that oncology education knowing what types of cancer how it effects the body what treatments are out there and what certain treatment medications surgeries radiation or chemotherapy and how that effects their their body and their function. So that’s really what it gave us this knowledge base to begin the need folks for rehab.

00:02:02
M1
Why is this program relatively new I understand the STAR program is only a few years old and always said of St Joseph has been offering it for just about two years haven’t follow up programs been offered to cancer patients in the past .

00:02:17
M2
Well I think the bility to refer a patient out for rehabilitation was there but honestly I don’t know if the awareness was so much there. I personally think a lot of the patients there are so grateful for the care that they’re receiving from their oncologist to treat their cancer they were always connecting the physical impairments with the psychological impairment they have from the treatment or from their cancer diagnoses Unseld to being as important and so now we’re just trying to raise awareness that there are things that you can do there is help to improve your quality of life and you don’t have to just live with the the impairment once you finish your treatment.

00:03:02
M1
Is there any way to measure the impact of the treatment you provide on your patients I mean do you know what sort of results you get.

00:03:12
M2
That’s a good question and you know at their best we always set goals for our patients and we’re always looking back at those goals and seen what have been that if we need to tweak anything but we also do some scoring for our outcomes we use some different standard AI tools we use the fact that at most just their weight to score their physical impairments of their quality of life their emotional distress. So we look at all of those things and we have a patient complete that in the beginning they also do it at the end of their treatment so we can see what kind of gains that we’ve made. We also track patient satisfaction we want to know how the patient felt that their therapy went.

00:03:55
M1
I assume you’re working with some patients whose cancer is in remission are may be cancerous tissue has been removed surgically but you might also have patients whose cancer is is on calling or may recur.

00:04:09
M2
How does that affect what you offer in the program you have that really good point because not all of our patients are what we call cancer survivors yet some are end stages of cancer and sometimes the rehab is geared toward making the patient as functional as they can be and sometimes it’s about helping the caregivers you know helping educate them on body mechanics or how to take care of this person more easily without doing greater distress on their body then you know taking some of the burden off of them so it’s not always someone who’s had their treatment finished their treatment and now cancer free and people are through all stages of cancer.