Rehabilitation for the terminal cancer patient

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 1994 Jun;73(3):199-206. doi: 10.1097/00002060-199406000-00009.


A study was made of 301 terminal cancer patients who received physical therapy in the hospice facility during a period of 6 1/2 years. Of 239 patients with activities of daily living disturbance, the average transfer and locomotion score on the Barthel mobility index (maximum score 47) was 12.4 before beginning the physical therapy program. Later, after activities of daily living exercises, at their maximum level these patients reached an average score of 19.9. Response to a questionnaire was obtained from 169 families of decreased patients; 149 patients (88%) had indicated a desire for ambulation or mobility by wheelchair; 166 patients (98%) were satisfied with the hospice care; 132 patients (78%) were satisfied with the rehabilitation in the terminal stage; 107 patients (63%) considered the terminal rehabilitation procedures to be effective. The more fully patients discussed the physical therapy program with the therapist, the more effective and more satisfactory the rehabilitation was judged to be. Families actively participating in the rehabilitation assessed it as more effective, more satisfactory to the patients and more useful in overall patient care than those who did not participate at all. This study shows that rehabilitation can make an important contribution to the care of the terminal cancer patient.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires