Rehabilitation and support services 

  • Rehabilitation

    The team of occupational therapists and physiotherapists at RNOH and UCLH specialise in the rehabilitation of children, young people and adults who require orthopaedic surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy following their diagnosis of sarcoma. Rehabilitation is a process of advice, support and treatment, tailor made to each individual to help them recover and adjust to life during and after sarcoma treatment or surgery.

    Occupational Therapists have a key role to play in helping patients remain independent in personal and domestic activities of daily living such as washing, dressing and meal preparation. They may suggest new ways of doing things or recommend the use of special equipment after surgery. The occupational therapist can link with local Social Service teams to assess whether any adaptations or equipment are needed at home. In addition Occupational Therapists can support and advise on return to different aspects of life such as work or school, return to driving and return to caring responsibilities. They are also able to advise on methods to help manage symptoms such as fatigue.

    Physiotherapists have a key role to play in helping patients regain movement in joints, strengthen muscles and retrain balance allowing people to regain function such as walking or using their arms.  This involves individualised exercise programmes and providing appropriate walking aids such as elbow crutches or sticks. Physiotherapists help people return to an active a lifestyle as possible which can include appropriate leisure and sporting activities.

    Depending on the type of rehabilitation required at different stages you may see a physiotherapist or occupational therapist in different settings as an out-patient, in-patient or in the home.

    Other Rehabilitation professionals included in the sarcoma team include:

    Orthotists provide custom made and off the shelf braces and splints to support joints after different types of sarcoma surgery

    Prosthetists assess for and provide artificial limbs if amputation surgery is required.

    If you have any questions regarding rehabilitation or how you will manage after surgery please contact us

    RNOH team:

  • Other support services

    In addition to physiotherapy and occupational therapy, people diagnosed with sarcoma may benefit from a range of other services, including:

    Dietary services

    Dietitians can help and advice patients who may need extra nutritional support before, during and after treatment for a sarcoma. If you have any concerns you can be referred to a dietician.

    Patients undergoing treatment for a head and neck sarcoma, or sarcoma of the abdomen may see a specialist dietitian as part of their treatment.

    Speech and language therapy

    Speech and language therapists can help with problems such as difficulties with swallowing, eating or drinking, as a result of your sarcoma or treatment.

    Lymphoedema

    Occasionally patients can develop lymphoedema as a result of their cancer or treatment. Lymphoedema is a swelling caused by a build-up of fluid in the tissues under the skin. Some treatments for sarcoma, such as radiotherapy and surgery, can damage the lymphatic system. This can cause lymphoedema.

    Should you develop signs and symptoms of lymphoedema we can refer you into your local lymphoedema clinic for support, treatment and advice.

     Palliative Care

    For patients with symptoms from advanced cancer, we will make a referral to your local community palliative care team. The palliative care team will work closely with you, your family and us to improve your symptoms and enable you to be as well as possible.

    Psychological and Emotional Support

    We recognise that having cancer and being treated for it can be a very difficult experience, and that care is more than just physical. Being given a diagnosis of cancer can be very stressful, and can affect many aspects of life. We aim to provide emotional support our patients in a number of ways:

    • Clinical Nurse Specialists:

    All patients will be given the name of a clinical nurse specialist who can guide them through their diagnosis and treatment, and provide emotional support and information.

    •  Counselling and Psychological services

    Counselling and psychological services are available at UCLH and RNOH, as well as many of our partners in care. Alternatively we can help provide you with the details of your local services, or your GP can help facilitate this locally for you.

    •  The Macmillan Support and Information Centre at the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre (see next section)
     

    Art of Life

    Lizzie Burns, artist for the UCLH sarcoma unit, offers creative sessions for patients during their treatment as part of the Art of Life project. She believes the opportunity to try something different and become absorbed can make a difference. If you would like to work with Lizzie while you are having treatment, please ask your nurses or doctors.

     

  • Macmillan Support and Information Service

    The Macmillan Support and Information Service at the UCLH Macmillan Cancer Centre, provides a wide range of resources for all people with cancer, and their families and friends. The Support and Information Specialists are here to listen, talk things through, and provide emotional support and information. Patients can drop in anytime between 9:30am and 4.45pm Monday to Friday.  They are located on the ground floor of the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre, Huntley Street, London, WC1E 6AG.

    The Macmillan Support and Information Service runs a wellbeing programme of workshops and courses to help manage the impact cancer and its treatment can have on your life and also provides other services, such as: 

    • psychological and emotional support
    • wig specialist
    • complementary therapies including aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, Reiki and relaxation
    • welfare and benefit services
    • support groups
    • a selection of booklets on a wide range of topics related to cancer