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      Oncologic Rehabilitation in the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Situation in Clinics


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          Oncological rehabilitation is an important pillar in the treatment of cancer patients. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this form of therapy is particularly challenged, as it relies heavily on group therapies. The aim of the study was to find out what impact the pandemic has had on oncological rehabilitation so far and how the rehabilitation clinics have dealt with it.


          A web-based survey was used to collect data from 14 oncological rehabilitation clinics on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on occupancy, staffing trends, and hygiene measures for the observation period from March 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021. The data were compared with the same period 1 year earlier. In addition, the compensatory measures taken with regard to therapy were recorded.


          While only 15,272 patients were rehabilitated in the period under review, 21,257 patients were rehabilitated in the same period 1 year earlier. This corresponds to a decrease in occupancy of 28%. Three clinics were affected by temporary closures due to the pandemic. In 39% of the clinics, screening tests for patients had already been started for more than 8 months, while this was also offered to staff in only 23% of the clinics. With regard to changes in the therapeutic offer, more physiotherapeutic small groups with a reduced number of participants were used. This was also used in the area of sports therapy and education offers by 73% and 60% of the clinics, respectively. Overall, 92% of the participants assumed an economic recovery at the time of the survey.


          Despite a considerable decrease in occupancy in the oncological rehabilitation clinics, the therapies could be changed and carried out in a hygiene-compliant manner. Screening tests were offered at an early stage for patients as well as somewhat delayed for staff. The data show that pandemic-consistently changes in oncological rehabilitation are possible and that supply chains can be maintained.

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          Most cited references8

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          COVID-19 pandemic. What should Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine specialists do? A clinician's perspective.

          COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly spreading all over the world, creating the risk for a healthcare collapse. While acute care and intensive care units are the main pillars of the early response to the disease, rehabilitative medicine should play an important part in allowing COVID-19 survivors to reduce disability and optimize the function of acute hospital setting. The aim of this study was to share the experience and the international perspective of different rehabilitation centers, treating COVID-19 survivors. A group of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialists from eleven different countries in Europe and North America have shared their clinical experience in dealing with COVID-19 survivors and how they have managed the re-organization of rehabilitation services. In our experience the most important sequelae of severe and critical forms of COVID-19 are: 1) respiratory; 2) cognitive, central and peripheral nervous system; 3) deconditioning; 4) critical illness related myopathy and neuropathy; 5) dysphagia; 6) joint stiffness and pain; 7) psychiatric. We analyze all these consequences and propose some practical treatment options, based on current evidence and clinical experience, as well as several suggestions for management of rehabilitation services and patients with suspected or confirmed infection by SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 survivors have some specific rehabilitation needs. Experience from other centers may help colleagues in organizing their services and providing better care to their patients.
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            How Should the Rehabilitation Community Prepare for 2019-nCoV?

            With the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV) pandemic spreading quickly in the United States and the world, it is urgent that the rehabilitation community quickly understands the epidemiology of the virus and what we can and must do to face this microbial adversary at the early stages of this likely long global pandemic. The 2019-nCoV is a novel virus so most of the world’s population does not have prior immunity to it. It is more infectious and fatal than seasonal influenza, and definitive treatment and a vaccine are months away. Our arsenal against it is currently mainly social distancing and infection control measures.
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              Oncological Rehabilitation

              An increasing number of patients are living with or surviving cancer due to improvements in detection and treatment. However, patients who survive cancer may experience functional disabilities that impact on health, quality of life and ability to work. For example, physical disorders may include fatigue, reduced muscle strength, cognitive dysfunction, paresthesia or nutrition problems, while mental symptoms may include anxiety, depression, fear of relapse or insomnia. Multidimensional oncological rehabilitation programs have been developed to address these disabilities and to help cancer patients and long-term survivors to reduce morbidity and to improve quality of life. There has been evidence showing that multidisciplinary oncological rehabilitation interventions involving physical, psycho-educational and vocational components led to a better quality of life and a higher rate of return to work than just usual care. In Germany, oncological rehabilitation is an integral part of the healthcare system and part of a modern cancer treatment that immediately follows operation, medical treatment or radiotherapy. Furthermore, it can be used if functional disabilities still remain years after cancer treatment. This review describes the German history and legal basis of oncological rehabilitation as well as the contents of and the evidence for this comprehensive and interdisciplinary treatment.

                Author and article information

                Oncol Res Treat
                Oncol Res Treat
                Oncology Research and Treatment
                S. Karger AG (Allschwilerstrasse 10, P.O. Box · Postfach · Case postale, CH–4009, Basel, Switzerland · Schweiz · Suisse, Phone: +41 61 306 11 11, Fax: +41 61 306 12 34, karger@karger.com )
                September 2022
                18 July 2022
                18 July 2022
                : 45
                : 10
                : 568-575
                [1] aCinic Reinhardshöhe, Bad Wildungen, Germany
                [2] bHamm Clinic Park Therme, Badenweiler, Germany
                [3] cStrandklinik Boltenhagen, Boltenhagen, Germany
                Author notes
                Copyright © 2022 by S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

                : 14 March 2022
                : 15 June 2022
                : 2022
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 2, References: 10, Pages: 8
                This research did not receive grants from any funding agency in public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors
                Research Article

                covid-19 pandemic,oncological rehabilitation,rehabilitation therapies,hygiene rules in rehabilitation


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