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Cancer Rehabilitation

There’s nothing easy about what you’re going through.  Our cancer rehabilitation services are designed to respond to the needs of you and your family. Our clinical team will develop a treatment plan based on your goals, whether that means improving strength and function to return home, resume work and other activities, or enhance quality of life.

Levels of Care for Cancer Rehabilitation

Along the way, your recovery is supported by some the most advanced rehabilitation treatments, research and programs available that create a continuum of care.

  • Hospital Rehab
  • Long-Term Acute
  • Outpatient

Spaulding's Approach to Cancer Rehabilitation

Improvements in oncology research and treatment have resulted in patients living longer after a cancer diagnosis. Cancer itself and many of the treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, can result in disabling conditions. Rehabilitation experts aim to improve pain, function and quality of life at all levels of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The field of cancer rehabilitation in the outpatient setting aims to address all types of impairments from cancer and cancer treatments. Some common oncology-related impairments may include:

  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Lymphedema
  • Back pain from cancer, metastases or prior treatment for cancer
  • Arm, leg or joint pain from cancer, metastases or prior treatment for cancer
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Deconditioning, weakness and fatigue
  • Nerve dysfunction
  • Cognitive issues
  • Swallowing issues
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty opening the mouth (trismus)
  • Balance and gait difficulty
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction

Spaulding Hospital for Continuing Care Cambridge

The Cancer Rehabilitation Program uniquely incorporates inpatient rehabilitation with primary medical and specialty care to meet the needs of cancer patients. Specialty treatment includes chemotherapy, blood product replacement, infusion therapy, pain management, treatment of radiation-related symptoms, nutrition, and wound management.

Inpatient program components may include:

  • Comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s medical status
  • Medical consultation with acute care providers as needed
  • 24-hour nursing care with a focus on medication management
  • Nutrition counseling and support
  • Coordinated transportation for radiation treatments and oncology follow-up appointments
  • Counseling and support for patients and families
  • Palliative care support as needed

Our Team

Julie Silver, MD
Associate Chair and Director of Cancer Rehabilitation
Associate Professor,Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School
Dr. Silver is a leading national and international authority on cancer rehabilitation and prehabilitation and has published extensively in the field.

Sasha Knowlton, MD
Assistant Director of Cancer Rehabilitation
Instructor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School
Dr. Knowlton provides cancer rehabilitation services for Spaulding, Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She also treats non-cancer patients for musculoskeletal conditions.

Lauren Elson, MD
Board certified in sports medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation, Dr. Elson treats and sees patients at Spaulding Outpatient Center Wellesley & Spaulding Outpatient Center Cambridge. Dr. Elson has a special interest in cancer rehabilitation after spending time at Sloan-Kettering as a resident. She collaborates with the oncology team and sees patients at the Vernon Cancer Center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.