BUCKHANNON – Three HealthWorks Rehab & Fitness locations now offer the ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation Program to help oncology patients across West Virginia live better lives before, during and after their cancer treatment.
ReVital is a growing, national cancer rehabilitation program offered in 440 healthcare locations in more than 20 states across the United States. The ReVital program is available in West Virginia, exclusively, at the Buckhannon, Fairmont and Morgantown HealthWorks Rehab & Fitness locations.
This primary therapy program helps cancer patients stay active and independent through the work of physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists across the United States. Each ReVital certified therapist is required to complete specialized, additional training to treat patients with a cancer diagnosis.
“I think the biggest reason why [this program] is important is that up to 90% of people with cancer will have at least one negative side effect from their diagnosis. Of those people, less than 10% actually get help for it,” said Jeff Sandy, PT, DPT, MS and ReVital Program Director. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re trying to expand this program and bring it to more locations and also expand public awareness, so when people do experience the signs and symptoms of the negative impacts of cancer, they get the help they need.”
There are 12 West Virginia patients currently enrolled in ReVital, with new patients being added to the program regularly.
“Initially, ReVital was established for patients specifically with breast cancer,” Sandy said. “However, it has since evolved and grown to include all types of cancer: everything from prostate cancer to gastrointestinal cancer, head and neck cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer – all different types of cancer.”
Oncology patients experiencing the following symptoms are encouraged to speak with their physician to schedule an initial evaluation to determine program participation: pain, fatigue, balance issues (feeling unsteady on your feet), mobility issues (difficulty getting up from a seated position to standing), lack of endurance, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, falling or close falls, general swelling, brain fog, or the inability to work or participate in daily activities.
Patients experiencing pelvic pain can take comfort in knowing the HealthWorks clinic in Morgantown offers specialized pelvic health physical therapy.
Sandy said cancer patients can join the ReVital program even before they experience these symptoms.
“This is very much a program that is encouraged for people to get into right away, even before they experience symptoms,” Sandy said. “There is a lot of current and new research that shows that the quicker you get into a physical therapy or exercise program, the less likely you are to experience symptoms in the first place and the better quality of life you can continue to have.”
During the initial patient evaluation, Sandy said physical therapists will ask two important questions: what issue(s) is the patient having? (For example, what symptoms are they experiencing?) And, most importantly from a physical therapy perspective, how is that symptom affecting their function or their everyday life? (For example, what are the things they want to continue doing or want to get back to doing that they are not able to do currently?)
A regimen of physical therapy can have a variety of positive impacts on a patient’s life.
“That is where I think physical therapy makes the biggest impact, and not only on the symptoms – and it does help with symptoms – but getting people back to a functional level and being able to do what they want to do,” Sandy said.
There are three phases of oncology treatments: pre-treatment; ongoing cancer treatment, whether that is chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or surgery; and post-treatment or “survivorship,” where a patient has completed their treatment plan and recovers.
“The other part of survivorship that is really important is that a lot of new research that shows being physically active, post-cancer [diagnosis], can actually decrease your chance for recurrence,” Sandy said.
The initial ReVital regimen asks patients to complete a routine of physical therapy two to three times per week for six to eight weeks. However, an individualized approach allows each patient to receive the appropriate care plan for their needs, diagnosis and recovery.
“I would recommend everyone with cancer or undergoing cancer surgery participate in the ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation Program,” said Carole Dobrick, a current ReVital program participant in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Visit Jeff Sandy and his team at HealthWorks Rehab & Fitness at 103 Professional Arts Plaza Drive in Buckhannon. For additional information, patients can call Sandy at 304-285-3730.