What is the PINC & STEEL Cancer Rehabilitation Program?

Unfortunately in this day and age it is common to be affected by cancer in some way. It might be that we experience cancer ourselves. Or a family member or friend might receive a diagnosis. Whatever the reason, cancer is having an increasing impact on many of our lives.

Cancer is a major public health problem!

  • Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. In 2012 there were approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths worldwide.
  • According to the World Health Organisation the number of new cases is expected to rise by approximately 70% over the next two decades.

What is the PINC & STEEL Cancer Rehabilitation Program?

The PINC & STEEL program is a specialised cancer rehabilitation program. It is dedicated to improving the strength, quality of life, and sense of wellbeing of all women and men affected by cancer. An individualised, exercise-based cancer rehabilitation program, it is run by certified physiotherapists and encourages long-term physical activity for those who have, or have experienced cancer.

PINC & STEEL physiotherapists provide a wide range of services designed to care, support and guide men and women through every stage of their treatment and recovery. With recent advances in medical treatments, more people now survive a cancer diagnosis. However these treatments can still cause physical impairments such as fatigue, lymphoedema and reduced muscle strength. The PINC & STEEL program is dedicated to helping individuals maximise their recovery, regain physical strength and performance, and improve body confidence and control.

The PINC & STEEL cancer rehabilitation program is suitable after any type of cancer surgery or treatment, and accommodates all ages, fitness levels and mobility. Physiotherapists work with individuals to design a rehabilitation program specific to their particular stage of recovery, as well as the problems they are experiencing. Each session involves a combination of services including: Manual physiotherapy, graduated resistance training, individualised clinical Pilates, fatigue management and exercise prescription.

PINC & STEEL Cancer Rehabilitation Program Phases

The program is formatted into four phases dependent on physical condition, the length of the healing process, the type of surgery involved, and the course of adjuvant treatments e.g. chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.

Pre-operative Phase: This phase is designed to help patients before their cancer treatment begins. It includes a pre-operative assessment, as well as education to identify any factors that may affect recovery from surgery. A pre-operative treatment plan will be devised for each individual. This may include specific exercises, soft tissue mobilisation and education.

Post-operative Phase: This phase is designed to assist in the healing process of patients who are recently post surgery or post intervention. The aim is to regain strength and flexibility in joints and muscle groups that have become weak and inflexible as a result of surgery. It incorporates breathing techniques and gentle modified exercises to maximise recovery.

Recovery Phase: This phase is designed to improve energy levels and general well being during cancer treatment (e.g. chemotherapy and radiation therapy). It aims to help patients manage fatigue, and restore post-operative strength and flexibility. In addition to focusing on stretching and strengthening exercises for the upper and lower extremities, it may also incorporate exercises to help improve abdominal strength and control.

Fitness Phase: This phase is designed to facilitate overall conditioning, and to increase physical stamina after treatment is completed. It aims to improve cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility to increase endurance, elevate metabolism, and improve muscle tone and body composition. It is also designed to motivate and encourage good exercise habits for life.

As the population of cancer survivors grows, it is important to acknowledge that surviving cancer is associated with several distinct health issues. Compared with people who have not had cancer, cancer survivors have an increased lifetime risk of developing new primary cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and functional decline. Healthy lifestyle practices, including regular exercise, hold the potential to reduce the impact of these adverse physiological and quality of life outcomes, and improve overall prognosis.

In my opinion survivorship matters! I believe every individual diagnosed with cancer deserves the appropriate support and rehabilitation throughout their treatment and recovery to reduce the impact of long-term impairments following surgery and cancer treatment, and improve quality of life. As a PINC & STEEL Physiotherapist I am passionate about inspiring all men and women to take their first steps on the road to recovery and survive to thrive!

About the Author:

Rachel is a Physiotherapist at Physiotas.

Rachel completed her Bachelor of Physiotherapy through Charles Sturt University in 2014. Following graduation Rachel worked in private practice for two years in her home town of Orange, NSW, before moving to Tasmania in early 2017.

Rachel has completed post graduate study in mechanical diagnosis and therapy and is a Credentialed McKenzie Therapist. Rachel also has a special interest in Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapy and is a certified PINC Cancer Rehabilitation Physiotherapist. Rachel has experienced firsthand the devastating impact a cancer diagnosis can have on an individual, their family and friends, and is passionate about supporting others through this difficult journey.

Outside of work Rachel enjoys photography, running, hiking and travel.