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Lessons Amidst a Pandemic

Fisher, Mary Insana PT, PhD

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doi: 10.1097/01.REO.0000000000000225
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The current coronavirus pandemic, resulting in worldwide infections of COVID-19, is certainly a sad story to follow. Millions have become ill, and hundreds of thousands have died. This is the moment to pause and remember those lost and to thank those valiantly fighting on the front lines to save lives.

This is also the moment to learn. The research community is unified in advancing knowledge related to this coronavirus and how to treat those infected with COVID-19. Research about the coronavirus is quickly disseminated to move research findings into clinical use. Medical journals around the globe are now rapidly publishing peer-reviewed literature related to COVID-19; much of it is offered free to allow for the broadest distribution to the medical community.

The lessons in this response are clear. We must disseminate our knowledge to those on the front lines to be able to put our findings into immediate use. As researchers seeking to improve life after cancer treatment, we must move our findings from our laboratories into the public realm. One way is through conference presentations and journal publications. Rehabilitation Oncology has processes in place for rapid dissemination of peer-reviewed pieces related to the care of the individual with cancer during this pandemic. We invite submissions related to cancer rehabilitation in the time of COVID-19 and, following all necessary peer review, will rapidly publish ahead of print.

As clinicians, we can learn from this pandemic and the rapid dissemination of critical information. We must adopt findings into clinical practice to improve outcomes for our patients now. This issue of Rehabilitation Oncology offers evidence that clinicians can immediately put into practice.

Two articles in this issue focus on the importance of exercise and physical activity. In the article by Moorthy et al, the importance of prehabilitation in esophageal gastric cancer is highlighted, joining the body of evidence of the positive effect of prehabilitation in oncology. Andres and colleagues further demonstrate the value of exercise before, during, and after hospitalization for stem cell transplantation, with all participants demonstrating improved outcomes, and those categorized as high functioning demonstrating lower mortality in overall survival than the low-functioning group. In contrast, Rindfleisch et al report the negative effect of hospitalization for those receiving a stem cell transplant on physical performance scores and suggest that the frail population would benefit from intervention.

Perhaps, one of the most practical methods to implement research into practice is through the application of clinical practice guidelines. In this issue, the reader will find an executive summary of the APTA Academy for Oncologic Physical Therapy Clinical Practice Guideline: Interventions for Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema, which is published in the July issue of Physical Therapy ( This executive summary highlights clinical practice recommendations for treatment of breast cancer–related lymphedema, based on rigorous assessment of the evidence for common lymphedema treatments. By adopting these recommendations, those with breast cancer–related lymphedema can receive the most effective treatments.

Let us all learn the lessons that this coronavirus pandemic has taught us. We can use the evidence to improve the lives of our patients, and we need to use it now.

Lastly, with this issue we introduce our new journal cover. This cover, aligned with the American Physical Therapy Association branding, also conveys the forward arc trajectory of oncology rehabilitation research. This new design reflects the maturing of our journal, now in its 38th year, and portrays the scientific nature of the publication. Use the contents of this journal to move evidence into practice for the betterment of our patient care.

© 2020 Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy, APTA.