To determine the pattern of change in peripheral nerve function (as measured by vision, hearing, deep tendon reflexes, vibratory sense, cutaneous sensation, gait and balance, muscle strength, and orthostatic blood pressure) occurring among individuals receiving cancer treatment with known neurotoxic agents.
A convenience sample of 16 participants with cancer who were receiving chemotherapy had their peripheral nerve function assessed at baseline and at 4 weeks and 12 weeks of treatment. Data were analyzed using plots and regression slopes to determine change over time in clinical measures of peripheral nerve function. Outcome variables were vision, hearing, deep tendon reflexes, vibratory sense, cutaneous sensation, gait and balance, muscle strength, and changes in orthostatic blood pressure.
This is the first prospective study to use comprehensive clinical measures of peripheral nerve and muscle changes resulting from combination chemotherapy or a biotherapy regimen. Alterations in vision, hearing, deep tendon reflexes, vibratory sense, cutaneous sensation, balance, muscle strength, and orthostatic blood pressure were noted, but gait remained unchanged.
Implications for Practice
This study provides beginning evidence of the need for careful, ongoing assessment of treatment-induced peripheral neuropathy. Standardized clinical practice procedures that incorporate patient evaluation for peripheral neuropathy must still be developed.In addition, we must educate our patients about the functional changes they may expect, and we must develop strategies to assist them in managing limitations that they experience as a result of peripheral neuropathy.
Contact Dr. Visovsky by e-mail at [email protected]
© 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Inc