Activities of daily living (ADL) are frequently impaired in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this retrospective study, we aimed to investigate the effects of physical therapy on ADLs in patients with HCC during hospitalization for cancer treatment. Nineteen patients with HCC were enrolled. During hospitalization, patients performed a combination of resistance training, stretching, and aerobic exercise (20-60 min/day). ADLs were assessed using the functional independence measure (FIM). Changes in FIM were evaluated by before-after analysis. No significant difference was seen in Child-Pugh class before and after physical therapy. The bilateral knee extension strength and chair stand test were significantly increased after physical therapy compared with before physical therapy (p = 0.001 and p = 0.008, respectively). The total FIM score was significantly increased after physical therapy compared with that before physical therapy (p = 0.0156). Among the 18 indexes of FIM, the stairs index was significantly improved after physical therapy compared with that before physical therapy (5.9 vs. 6.4 points, p = 0.0241). We demonstrated that physical therapy improved muscle strength without worsening liver function. Furthermore, physical therapy improved FIM, especially in the stairs index, in patients with HCC. Thus, physical therapy may be beneficial in patients with HCC during cancer treatment.
Keywords: functional independence measure; hepatoma; hospitalization; liver; supervised physiotherapy.