2022 Wrap-Up: How to Be a Safe OncoPT

Hands-down: this is probably the most USEFUL podcast episode you’ll listen to when it comes to being an OncoPT.  

In today’s 2022 wrap-up episode, we’re bringing back THE Dr. Susan Maltser, DO. She has written one of my favorite articles, A Focused Review of Safety Considerations in Cancer Rehabilitation, which you’ll definitely want to save & reference frequently.  This article is the BIBLE OF BASICS when it comes to being safe with people who have or who have had cancer. We are focusing on what safety considerations and red flags we should be aware of as oncology physical therapists. The way we treat our patients is based on dogmas and fear, and this can actually hinder the patient’s ability to heal.

We are discussing things that make no sense when it comes to patient care, such as avoiding modalities or preventing people with certain platelet counts from exercising. The majority of patients who come in are living their daily lives, which means they are exercising. Getting ready for the day to putting away groceries is all exercise. It is important to address the dogma about not exercising patients. The patient should be encouraged to exercise unless there is good evidence to suggest otherwise.

In creating a treatment plan, it is important to take into account the patient’s entire history and present symptoms.  Cancer patients need to take very few precautions. If a patient has bone metastasis and have functional pain, you might not want to exercise that particular limb.

Physical therapists are often concerned about fractures. PT doesn’t cause most of these pathological fractures; it’s the progression of the disease. “I’ll tell you in all these years, I’ve not had a single patient who had a fracture in therapy,” Dr. Maltser.

About Dr. Susan Maltser, DO

Dr. Susan Maltser, DO is a Rehab Medicine doctor who specializes in treating cancer patients. She helps patients return to their previous level of function by treating their pain or any disability from cancer diagnosis through their cancer treatment and beyond. Common conditions that she treats are post-mastectomy pain, lymphedema, shoulder pain, weakness and difficulty with daily activities. Common cancer patients that she encounters are cancers of the breast, head and neck, brain, spine and sarcomas. She works with a multi-disciplinary team including physical, occupational, lymphedema and speech therapists. Focusing on the highest quality of life for cancer patients and survivors is the ultimate goal of my practice.

Twitter: @SusanMaltserDO

Email: smaltser@northwell.edu

Grab the article we discussed in today’s podcast episode.


Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT. And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.

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