cancer_care_rehabilitationRehabilitation can serve an important role in improving the quality of life for the more than 14 million people who currently are living with cancer.

“Rehabilitation can help cancer patients maximize their abilities and independence, while minimizing many of the complications associated with cancer and cancer treatments,” says Dr. Pedro McDougal, Medical Director of Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “It can help restore physical and cognitive abilities that may have been diminished by the disease or from the side effects of the treatments.”

At Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, an interdisciplinary healthcare team works with cancer patients and their family members to create individualized rehabilitation treatment plans so patients can progress at their own ability levels. The team includes specially trained physicians; nurses; case managers; dietitians; and respiratory, occupational, speech and physical therapists — among other professionals.

“By working together, we can help patients living with cancer — whether they are newly diagnosed, undergoing cancer treatment, or following cancer treatment – best meet their personal goals,” McDougal says. “We strive to address not only their physical and medical needs, but their emotional needs as well. We know that living with cancer can be challenging, and we want to help our patients return to the highest levels of ability and independence possible.”

Supporting the services that McDougal and his team provide at Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, patients have access to a well-equipped therapy gym, a daily living suite, and a transitional suite. The suites allow patients to practice typical, at-home activities while still under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Some of these activities may include getting in and out of bed, showering, cooking, or doing laundry. In addition, the hospital offers home evaluations to identify any necessary durable medical equipment or home modifications that may need to be made to a patient’s home before leaving the hospital, ensuring a safer return home.

McDougal says rehabilitation can help reduce fatigue, increase strength and improve mood. Cancer-related conditions that rehabilitation can help address include:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Balance disorders
  • Speech or swallowing difficulties
  • Chronic or acute pain
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Decreased memory or cognitive difficulties
  • Lymphedema or swelling in arms and legs
  • Depression or anxiety


“Our goal is to help our patients who are living with cancer achieve the highest quality of life possible,” McDougal says. “No matter where they are in their healing journey, we work to provide a positive – and hopefully lasting – impact.”


By Elsa Quintero