Postoperative physical therapy that begins as early as 2 days after surgery significantly improves joint mobility and "widely improves the quality of life" for women who underwent mastectomies, according to a new study. Researchers found that women who received physical therapy regained normal glenohumeral function 1 year after surgery and reported less pain, while an untreated control group continued to report limitations.
Italian researchers focused on women scheduled for Madden's modified radical mastectomy or segmental mastectomy with axillary dissection, dividing a group of 70 women into 2 groups: 1 that received postoperative physical therapy and 1 that did not. Women in the treatment group began physical therapy on the second postoperative day and participated in 40-minute rehabilitation sessions 5 times a week for the duration of the drainage, followed by 20 hour-long sessions after the drainage was removed.
Researchers observed "considerable" improvements in flexion as early as the fifth postoperative day for the treatment group over the control group, and noted continued progress at 1-month, 6-month, and 1-year evaluations. According to the study's authors, the treated group "regained normal function at 1 year after rehabilitation treatment while [the control group] was unable to do so for flexion, abduction, and internal rotation movements."
Additionally, the researchers write that physical therapy resulted in "statistically significant differences" in pain perception for the treatment group and even contributed to higher quality-of-life reports from the women who participated in rehabilitation. "Treating and reducing postoperative symptoms, especially pain and functional limitation, helped the patients to have a fast and complete physical and … psychosocial recovery ensuring a significant improvement in terms of quality of life," the report states. The study is e-published ahead of print at the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.
The role of the physical therapist (PT) in pre- and postoperative care of women with breast cancer is featured in a Move Forward Radio podcast and is addressed in the Prospective Surveillance Model for breast cancer treatment developed in 2012 by a multidisciplinary group that included APTA members.
American Physical Therapy Association | 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1488 703/684-APTA (2782) | 800/999-2782 | 703/683-6748 (TDD) | 703/684-7343 (fax)
Contact Us | For Advertisers & Exhibitors | For Media | Follow APTA
All contents © 2014 American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.