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The Occupational Therapist's Role in Cancer Rehabilitation

The Occupational Therapist's Role in Cancer Rehabilitation
Julie Silver, M.D.
January 23, 2012




Thank you for that introduction. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to everyone today about the occupational therapist's role in cancer rehabilitation. The question I get asked all the time is, "What is the occupational therapist's role in cancer rehab?" It is a good question. I think there is a lot of cross over between what OTs and PTs do, but occupational therapists have a distinct role in cancer rehabilitation. This goes back to not only their training and their clinical expertise, but also the research.   


I will start with a disclosure. I am a cofounder of Oncology Rehab Partners which has developed the STAR® Certifications. It is an evidence-based model of cancer rehab care for hospitals, cancer centers and group practices.


Institute of Medicine Reports

Let us begin with the Institute of Medicine Reports. Keep in mind that the Institute of Medicine brings together many experts who discuss very important issues in healthcare, and then come out with reports that tend to really change the way we practice medicine and make us take a hard look at what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.

In 2006 there was an important report that came out from the Institute of Medicine called "From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor Lost in Transition". This report showed that as people transitioned from acute cancer care into the survivorship phase of treatment, they often have very fragmented care. They may have many problems that do not get addressed and they are really struggling.   

The Institute of Medicine made ten key recommendations and I am going to highlight two of them.

julie silver

Julie Silver, M.D.

Julie Silver, MD, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, is a noted expert in physical medicine and rehabilitation (physiatry). Dr. Silver is the Chief Editor of Books at Harvard Health Publications, the consumer health branch of Harvard Medical School, and is on the medical staff at Massachusetts General, Brigham and Womens, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospitals in Boston, Massachusetts. She has been a member of the medical staff at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where she worked in the Lance Armstrong Foundation Survivorship Clinic and is the co-founder of Oncology Rehab Partners, an innovative healthcare company that developed the STAR Program®, an evidence-based and best practices model for cancer rehabilitation care. 

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