Physical Therapists Serve as a Vital Link in Cancer Rehabilitation

In the second of a two-part podcast, Kathryn H. Schmitz PhD, MPH, FACSM of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine shares the discoveries made during a recent PAL (Physical Activity and Lymphedema) trial. The original purpose of the trial was to determine if weight training was safe for breast cancer survivors who have or are at risk for lymphedema. The study actually found patients who participated in weight training were less likely to experience worsening of lymphedema related flare ups.

Participants in the PAL trial began a weight training program after being evaluated and cleared by a physical therapist. The weight training protocol started with a low level of weight and progressed very slowly.  Participants were carefully instructed on the correct technique and biomechanics to avoid overusing any muscle.

In addition to the PAL trial, Dr. Schmitz participated in an American College of Sports Medicine roundtable that developed a set of guidelines for working with patients during and after cancer treatment. To obtain a copy of the PAL weight training protocol or the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, email Dr. Schmitz at

Listen now to learn more about the study and why Dr. Schmitz believes physical therapists are the ideal starting place for cancer survivors in their survivorship, rehabilitation and wellness programs. 

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