We are back from APTA-CSM 2020, & it was a blast! The courses were phenomenal, the platform presentations were fantastic, & the oncology PT community is so vibrant – it’s incredible to see how much the Academy is growing & the young professional/student interest & excitement!
I learned soooo much this year, but after reflecting on the excitement & education from this weekend, I’ve narrowed my top take-away points.
Don’t forget cognition & vision.
While my first course was specific to special needs of geriatric oncology patient populations, there were some great points about doing cognitive & vision assessments with patients on chemotherapy. If chemotherapy is affecting a patient’s nerves, it’s most likely not localized to their peripheral nerves in their hands & feet. We know “chemo brain” is real. So we need to be screening our patients for potential issues like vision & cognition, even those who may not seem to have “big” issues. Up until this point, I’ve been so focused on trying to get through as many tests & measures as possible during an evaluation. This meant that I focused my time mainly on strength, balance, endurance, etc. & have been neglecting cognitive/vision screening. Truly, I was only doing general cranial nerve screens on my patients who have brain tumors or metastases because “I’ll refer them out to speech therapy for that stuff.” This means I’ve totally been missing or neglecting cognitive/vision impairments in my patients, especially my patients who I don’t think have these issues – talk about a wake-up call!
It’s time to think outside the OncoPT Box
Not going to lie: before CSM 2020, I had a pretty narrow idea of how we could serve patients who have/had oncology diagnoses. Obviously, there’s hospitals & other inpatient settings, outpatient clinics, home health, & we go through insurance. I knew about CashPT business models but didn’t think they were compatible with oncology. Boy, was I wrong! I met THREE different clinicians throughout the US who have their own CashPT practices that are serving patients in really awesome capacities. Spoiler: that will definitely be an upcoming episode – these practices & clinicians are so darn cool! Beyond CashPT, I went to phenomenal presentations on telehealth, & group wellness/fitness settings that completely opened my eyes to all the opportunities we have to serve patients.
The Academy is our family.
Last year, when I went to the Oncology academy business meeting, I was intimidated by the big names in the room – they’re my heroes, the ones paving the way for the future of cancer rehabilitation. However, after meeting so many people last year, going back this year was so much more fun. I reconnected with old friends & guests of the podcast, & still met so many more people. I met people at the Academy booth that I hung out with for the rest of the weekend. When the recently minted board-certified oncology specialists were recognized, it’s like we were celebrating friends. Any time I need help with a patient case, I know I can depend on fellow Oncology Academy members to guide me in the right direction – if you haven’t yet, you should definitely join the ListServ for this exact reason!
To all the listeners I met: thank you so much for coming up to say hi! I IMMENSELY enjoyed meeting you & hearing about how you are serving your patients! If I didn’t see you this time, I will see you in Orlando 2021!