Palliative care and rehabilitation.
Disability in patients with advanced cancer often results from bed rest, deconditioning, and neurologic and musculoskeletal complications of cancer or cancer treatment. Terminally ill patients have a high prevalence of weakness, pain, fatigue, and dyspnea in addition to other symptoms. Rehabilitation and palliative care have emerged as two important parts of comprehensive medical care for patients with advanced disease; this article discusses the relationship between the two and the possible role of rehabilitation interventions in the care of terminally ill patients. Palliative care and rehabilitation share common goals and therapeutic approaches. Both disciplines have a multidisciplinary model of care, which aims to improve patients' levels of function and comfort. There is scarce evidence that rehabilitation interventions can impact function and symptom management in terminally ill patients. However, clinical experience suggests that the application of the fundamental principles of rehabilitation medicine is likely to improve their care. Physical function and independence should be maintained as long as possible to improve patients' quality of life and reduce the burden of care for the caregivers. Future research on the rehabilitation of terminally ill patients should focus on better understanding the role of rehabilitation and defining appropriate interventions. The development of an evidence-based body of knowledge will ensure that these patients receive appropriate rehabilitation interventions.
Santiago-Palma, J; Payne, R
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