Objective: Cancer rehabilitation is an important but often underutilized treatment in the comprehensive care of the cancer patient. Cancer patients have varying levels of access to rehabilitation services. Acute inpatient, inpatient consultation-based, and outpatient-based cancer rehabilitation services have been described in the literature. We will discuss acute inpatient cancer rehabilitation and some of its outcomes at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, which is the only national comprehensive cancer center to have its own acute inpatient rehabilitation unit dedicated solely to cancer patients.
Design: We retrospectively reviewed the inpatient medical records of consecutive inpatients admitted to the acute inpatient cancer rehabilitation unit from September 2008 to August 2009 for the following information: patient age, sex, primary tumor type, rehabilitation diagnoses, length of stay, discharge destination, and payer source.
Results: From September 2008 to August 2009, the physical medicine and rehabilitation service at MD Anderson Cancer Center had 1098 inpatient consultations, of which 427 patients were admitted to the inpatient rehabilitation unit with a mean length of stay of 11 days. Of the 427 patients, 73 (17%) were patients with primary neurologic-based tumor, 71 (16%) were patients with hematologic-based tumors, 48 (11%) were sarcoma patients, 35 (8%) were gastrointestinal tumor patients, 27 (6%) were head and neck tumor patients, 25 (6%) were prostate and bladder cancer patients, 24 (6%) were lung cancer patients, 22 (5%) were melanoma patients, 20 (5%) were breast cancer patients, 15 (4%) were renal cancer patients, 14 (3%) were gynecologic cancer patients, and 53 (12%) were patients with other types of cancer. Of the 427 patients admitted to acute inpatient rehabilitation at MD Anderson Cancer Center, 324 (76%) were discharged home, 72 (17%) went back to acute care service, 15 (4%) were sent to a skilled nursing facility, 9 (2%) were discharged to palliative care, and 5 (1%) were discharged to a long-term acute care facility.
Conclusions: An active inpatient rehabilitation unit within a national comprehensive cancer center receives referrals from patients with a wide variety of tumor types and is able to successfully discharge home 76% of its patients.