Local researchers have found that rehabilitation therapy for patients with progressive cancer can help improve physical function, such as walking.
The discovery was contained in a report released by the National Evidence-based Healthcare Collaborating Agency (NECA), which carried out a study on improving physical function before and after rehabilitation treatment for progressive cancer patients.
Progressive cancer is a condition difficult to remove by surgery and hard to cure because of metastasis. For such patients, rehabilitation therapy is one of the necessary treatment modalities for maintaining or improving quality of life.
The agency analyzed 331 cancer patients treated or referred to a rehabilitation department of a general hospital in northern Gyeonggi Province from 2012 to 2017. It found that the body function index showed a significant increase after the patients completed rehabilitation treatments.
The agency confirmed that the rehabilitation treatments improved the patient's functional ambulation classification (FAC), which scores patients' gait abilities in six steps from 0 to 5. The FAC average improved from 2.1 to 2.4 after completing the rehabilitation treatments, and people who had a FAC of 0 and could not work decreased from 30.9 percent (129 cases) to 24.2 percent (101 cases) of the total after the treatment.
The number of physical function, including rising, moving, and climbing stairs, also increased from 57.8 points to 64.2 points out of 120 points.
Also, the agency found that age, use of analgesics, and the presence of brain metastasis had a significant effect on the improvement of the function after rehabilitation treatment.
In detail, the treatment effect was three times higher in patients under the age of 65 compared to those over 75. Also, the success rate of rehabilitation was twice as high among patients who did not use analgesics and had no brain metastasis.
"This study was the first local research to demonstrate the effectiveness of rehabilitation therapy for improving and maintaining physical function in patients with progressive cancer," said Professor Yang Eun-joo of the department of rehabilitation and the lead researcher of the study.
She went on to say, "We hope that the result of the research will be used as a basis for improving the awareness of cancer patients' rehabilitation treatment and establishing related policies."