The National Institute of Health (NIH) convened a meeting of research experts in the field of cancer rehabilitation at the NIH in Bethesda, MD in June. The purpose of this rehabilitation symposium was to disseminate the findings of an expert group comprised of clinical and research NIH Staff, and nationally recognized experts in cancer rehabilitation practice in the United States. The conference presented current practice models in cancer rehabilitation, identified evidence and practical considerations for the use of clinical, functional measurement tools and discussed clinical integration of rehabilitation services into the oncology continuum of care and survivorship. Jill Binkley, TurningPoint’s Executive Director, attended the meeting, along with other rehabilitation professionals with an interest in oncology rehabilitation, oncology professionals and other stakeholders who interact with the cancer population including professional organizations and societies, patient advocacy groups, accreditation bodies, federal and state government agencies.
Presentations and discussion focused on practical issues and challenges faced with integrating rehabilitation services into cancer care. While many models of care were outlined, it was generally agreed that access to rehabilitation for cancer patients continues to be the exception, rather than the rule in the United States. TurningPoint is a model of integrated, community-based rehabilitation and offers a local solution to this national problem. In a non-profit model such as ours, barriers to care are reduced by offering unique accessibility through financial assistance, complimentary programs, outreach to inner city and minority women and Spanish translation. We are proud to exemplify a successful model of care that is one way of addressing the national challenge of providing rehabilitation care for oncology patients.