Physical Therapy and Exercise for Hospice Patients

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Abstract

Falls are a particular health issue for hospice patients with cancer. Studies have found that 50% of patients diagnosed with advanced cancer fall during the subsequent 6-month time frame. The impact of falls on hospice and cancer patients is costly both in terms of reduced functional quality of life, increased anxiety and resulting pain and suffering. Physical therapy (PT) and exercise have been shown to be effective in reducing falls among older adult populations in the community. The purpose of this article is to review studies that examined PT and exercise for hospice and terminally ill cancer patients. Although none of the five studies evaluated the effect of PT and exercise specifically on falls, outcomes included factors such as balance, strength, pain, sleep and fatigue, all of which can contribute to falls. All the studies reviewed found benefits such as improved health status, functional mobility, or muscle strength.

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