Top 4 Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Those Who Have Cancer


Adults with cancer often experience symptoms that impact their quality of life and make it difficult to work, travel, and perform their daily activities. Occupational therapists offer supportive services for cancer patients that can manage the impact of the disease and the associated treatments.

Improved function lowers the risk for long-term disability and decreases mortality rates. Despite these benefits, occupational therapy (OT) services remain underused by cancer patients, likely due to lack of knowledge and accessibility. Here some OT myths that have been debunked.

Occupational therapists seek to increase a patient’s functional capacity with a range of tools and techniques depending on each person’s individual goals. For example, a person with cancer may want to control their pain, improve their mental health, or alleviate symptoms, enhancing the overall quality of life.

Listed below are several areas in which an occupational therapist can provide valuable assistance.

Fall Prevention

An OT includes recommendations and even implements home modifications and assistive devices for those at risk of falling. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Oncologist found that modifications recommended and installed by an OT reduced falls by 21 percent overall and by 39 percent in those considered high risk for falls.

Assistance with Cognitive Symptoms

These include cognitive issues related to cancer, like confusion and problems with organization, attention, and memory. The OT shows patients a variety of systems for money management, shopping, meal planning, scheduling, medication management, and other activities, giving patients the confidence to stay independent. Take a look at a few ways OT patients can be motivated to further help them.


More than 91 percent of those with cancer report fatigue that impacts their ability to conduct regular activities. OTs can provide strategies for energy conservation, helping patients maintain a routine. Some methods involve home modifications and organization. These can be personalized to work for each patient.

Physical impairments

Includes pain, numbness, a decrease in the range of motion, and lymphedema, which are common among cancer patients. OTs can recommend stretches and exercises to increase mobility and reduce pain, providing special tools to improve independence and education. OTs will also recommend activity modifications when appropriate.

When to See an OT

According to an article in The Oncologist, the patients with cancer who are most likely to benefit from occupational therapy are:

  • Those who have fallen in the past six months
  • Patients experiencing difficulty completing activities of daily living for more than two weeks
  • Those whose activities are limited by pain or other symptoms
  • Those who have changes in focus, attention, and memory that make it difficult to participate in regular activities

Seeing an OT can have numerous advantages for a cancer patient, and the value these medical professionals provide should not go overlooked. At Ardor Health Solutions, we can help you find an occupational therapist that’s right for you.  Check out our health care job database if you are in the market for a new travel therapy position,or contact us if you are in need of an occupational therapist.