Is the process of helping a person with a progressive, often terminal illness reach their physical, psychological, and social potential consistent with physiological and environmental limitations and life preferences. The primary goal of palliative care rehabilitation (PCR) is to promote independence in self-care activities, improvement in symptom control, stabilization of functional decline, and/or provision of emotional support.
PCR rehabilitation is described based on the patient’s anticipated recovery:
: attempts to preclude or mitigate anticipated functional morbidity from the underlying illness or its treatment for patients who often have no functional impairments yet.
: refers to the effort to return patients to their premorbid functional status when little long-term impairment is anticipated.
: attempts to maximize function after permanent impairments caused by an underlying illness and/or its treatment for which morbidity is anticipated to progress over time.
: pertains to the more conventional rehabilitation – it requires at least an hour per day of physical therapy and is delivered five days a week or more in a subacute care facility.
PCR can benefit that palliative care patients with progressive illness and pain, dysphagia, skin breakdown, muscle weakness, diminished endurance, and/or orthostatic hypotension.
Physical therapists and occupational therapists are professionals who can focus on different aspects of PCR. To prevent miscommunication, clinicians should clearly inform rehabilitation specialists when the goals of rehabilitative care are not for complete restoration of function, but rather symptom management, safety, or prevention of immobility or skin breakdown.
See reference for more information.
Adapted from Javier NM, Montagnini M. The role of palliative rehabilitation in serious illness. Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin. Fast facts and concepts #364. Internet. Accessed on January 5, 2019.