Preparatory methods in occupational therapy for radiationinduced fibrosis (RF): A case study

Harris, A. 2020. Belmont University, OTD Capstone Projects.

Abstract: Invasive breast cancer affects an estimated 268,600 women per year. However, the mortality rate for breast cancer has declined and the approximate number of deaths from breast cancer is less than one-third of new cases. Despite the increased chance of survival, there is also an increase in the side-effects of aggressive treatment options. The treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can be curative but provide occupational limitations of their own. Mild-to-moderate radiationinduced fibrosis syndrome (RF/RFS) affects 43-58% of patients who receive radiation therapy for breast cancer. RFS is a long-term progressive side-effect of radiation therapy with limited treatment options. This case study aims to use LymphaTouch™ as a preparatory method in occupational therapy treatment to decrease the effects of RF. By addressing these debilitating effects of RF, the study aims to promote a return to meaningful tasks. The client was found to have deficits in strength, range of motion, skin mobility, satisfaction with breasts, and physical well-being. The client reported decreased quality of life in relation to her RF. The client completed eight sessions of treatment using LymphaTouch™. Following the intervention, the client was found to have increased skin elasticity in 14 out of 16 segments assessed on her right breast as well as strength and range of motion within functional limits. Despite objective changes, the client reported decreased physical wellbeing and continued to report no satisfaction with breasts. The objective benefits may provide for a more successful outcome of the surgery due to an increase in skin elasticity and mobility. This case study demonstrates promising results in addressing RF using the LymphaTouch™ device. Further development of a standardized protocol and testing is warranted.