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Prehabilitation in Cancer Care

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN
The word “prehabilitation” is gaining acceptance and use in the oncology community. But what does it mean exactly? Prehabilitation occurs between the time of a cancer diagnosis and the beginning of treatment, and includes physical and psychological assessments that establish a baseline functional level, identify impairments, and provide interventions. These rehab-specific interventions promote physical and psychological health that reduce the incidence and/or severity of future impairments. The ultimate goal is to improve the patient’s quality of life and reduce healthcare costs.

Prehabilitation is a key component of the Survivorship Training and Rehab Program (STAR Program®), which is now available at dozens of locations nationwide. While some facilities are STAR-certified, others are in the process of achieving STAR certification.
The four key areas of the STAR program are providing access to prehab and rehabilitation services and resources, educating and tracking a patient’s recovery and progress, measuring patient satisfaction with the STAR program, and clinical education. STAR Program clinicians are trained through a series of evidence-based CEU-certified modules, in-services and expert-directed webinars. Certified STAR Programs have access to educational opportunities and materials including partner education supplements, CEU modules, and self-directed in-service kits. Clinicians are encouraged to engage in best practices and share their best practices during the annual STAR Program Connection Conference and through the STAR Program Connection blog, and online forum. More information about this program can be found at
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