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Rehabilitation program in Clinic Helena

In Clinic Helena we have created a rehabilitation program, especially for breast cancer patients.

With the aid of early detection and modern care, most of the patients of Clinic Helena recover totally from breast cancer.

Helena with the staff

In addition to breast cancer care, we offer individualised rehabilitation programs for our patients. Our aim is to both help our patients to recover from the cancer treatments and to re-establish their quality of life after the disease is gone.

The rehabilitation starts already during the diagnostics phase and continues until the patient has returned to normal life. The various phases of rehabilitation can be adjusted, with the goal of covering typical issues of that treatment phase. In the diagnostic stage, our psychologists help the patient to accept the feelings of having cancer. They will help the patient to find the strength to go through the treatments and also support the family members of the patient.

After the surgery, our physical therapist will teach appropriate exercises to maintain muscle strength. The rehabilitation will help the patient to cope with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation and to maintain the most active life possible.

In Clinic Helena we do not see rehabilitation only as a post-operative procedure, but it is connected to all phases of the breast cancer treatment until the patient returns to the full quality of life.

Decades-long experience has taught us here in Clinic Helena to recognise breast cancer patients’ needs and challenges. We work in close collaboration with oncologists, surgeons, and physiotherapists.
The main focal points in our breast cancer patient rehabilitation are:

  • Consistent and phased rehabilitation

In addition to traditional cancer aftercare, our breast cancer patients can receive tailor-made rehabilitation – in every stage of their treatment.

  • Comprehensive and multidisciplinary rehabilitation

Our team consists of professionals from different fields who are able to solve physical, psychological and social rehabilitation issues as well as nutritional and aesthetical issues.

  • Tailor-made rehabilitation programs based on individual needs

In Clinic Helena, our patients can start rehabilitation at any stage of the disease. Ask us about options for your needs, and our professionals will find a suitable rehabilitation program for you. If you for some reason you cannot travel to Finland, our physiotherapists offer also online exercises.

Our team consists of the following experts:

  • Physiotherapists
  • Microsurgeon specialised in breast reconstruction
  • Oncologist
  • Lymphatherapist
  • Nutritionist
  • Psychologist
  • Sexual therapist
  • Cosmetologist

Consultation upon request:

  • Dermatologist
  • Fertility doctor
  • Neurologist
  • General practitioners

Collaboration with Kruunupuisto Health Resort

The Kruunupuisto Health Resort is one of the oldest and most prestigious health resorts in Finland and Clinic Helena’s rehabilitation services are mostly carried out there. Lake Saimaa surrounds Kruunupuisto in the national landscape of Punkaharju.

Kruunupuisto Health Resort
Kruunupuisto balcony view

The health resort is equipped with gyms, swimming pools, spa and outdoor exercise facilities.
You can stay in single or double rooms in beautiful Art Nouveau style rooms.
The staff is full of experienced professionals and an on-call nurse will be available at all hours. Clinic Helena personnel is always available by phone.

Rehabilitation at different stages of breast cancer care

Rehabilitation after breast cancer surgery

After breast cancer surgery, the patient will remain in the post-operative ward for 1-2 nights. The first appointment with the physiotherapist will take place already the day after the surgery. The patient will be released from the hospital on the 2nd or 3rd day and can then head straight to the rehabilitation centre. Family members are welcome to join them in the rehabilitation centre.

Part of the program is a daily appointment with our nurse, who makes sure the wound and drains are clean and healing well. The nurse will photograph the wounds, if necessary, and contact Helena Puonti for consultation.

Helena supporting the patient

As part of the daily program, there are exercises with the physiotherapist, which are aimed to maintain arm and body mobility. The intensity and duration are planned individually depending on the patient’s energy levels.

Peer support is also available, in the form of meeting other former patients who have already recovered from breast cancer. In addition to the actual rehabilitation program, there are also plenty of other forms of leisure time activities available both in the Kruunupuisto and Punkaharju/Savonlinna area.

Hairdresser and cosmetologist services are also available as part of Kruunupuisto’s regular service.

Towards the end of the rehabilitation, Helena Puonti will examine the patient to make sure she is ready to return home – to her good, normal life.

Rehabilitation during chemotherapy or radiation treatment

In between chemotherapy or radiation courses, there are free days that can be used for rehabilitation. The aim is to reduce the effects of cytostatic drugs or radiation and to enhance wellbeing.

When in chemotherapy the patient can join the rehabilitation in between the courses of chemo. For radiotherapy patients, Clinic Helena and Kruunupuisto offer the rehabilitation program during weekends, when the treatment is paused.

The joy of rehabilitation

The rehabilitation program includes individual physiotherapy exercises, an appointment with a psychotherapist, skincare (dermatologist or cosmetologist), outdoors sports and group exercises.

The personnel of Clinic Helena and Kruunupuisto will give individual instructions on chemotherapy or radiation side effects.

Rehabilitation after breast reconstruction surgery

After breast reconstruction surgery, the patient will spend the first 3-5 days in the hospital under the doctor’s surveillance. After that, the rehabilitation can start in the Kruunupuisto Health Resort.

In case of a Sensing Breast reconstruction, Helena Puonti will visit the patient in Kruunupuisto during the first days, to make sure the patient is healing properly.

The duration of the rehabilitation is 2 weeks.

Helena and a patient

During the first week, the nurse meets with the patient 3-4 times a day and is always available. The nurse takes care of the wound and the drain and helps the patient shower. Physiotherapy exercises for 0,5-1h twice a day are started too. They include getting up from the bed, standing up, arm and body mobility exercises and so on. On the fifth day, there will be an appointment with a lymph therapist.

In addition to the physiotherapy, the second week of the rehabilitation program consists of a psychotherapist appointment and optional sexual therapist appointment to discuss any questions the patient might have. In the second week, the patient can continue with independent indoor and outdoor exercises, and excursions to nature and the surrounding cities like Savonlinna are also possible.

Hairdresser and cosmetologist services are also available as part of Kruunupuisto’s regular service. Helena Puonti will examine the patient before the end of the rehabilitation ensuring she is ready to return home to normal life.

Postponed rehabilitation

There are regular group rehabilitation programs in Kruunupuisto (1-2 weeks) aimed at breast cancer patients.
The optimal time for rehabilitation is about a year after the diagnosis.

The aim is to provide peer support as well as expert-guided support for patients with the same diagnosis.

Outside group therapy

In addition to group activities, each patient has individual appointments with a physiotherapist, psychologist, lymph therapist, sex therapist, cosmetologist and nutritionist.

The group program includes doctor’s lectures about breast cancer and breast reconstruction options and all the patients’ questions will be answered.

Different outdoor and leisure activities, like Night by the Fireplace, Sauna night etc. make the program enjoyable for the family too!

Our rehabilitation types

Physical rehabilitation

Returning to an active lifestyle includes the revival of the body’s normal mobility, muscle strength and durability. The sooner the exercises with a physical therapist after the operation start, the quicker the needed results will be achieved. With the aid of rehabilitation, blood and lymphatic system flow in the operation area will be normalised which reduces the risk of continued swelling and pain.

Rehabilitation with an instructor
Instructor-guided rehabilitation exercises
Rehabilitation - Outdoor exercises

An individual rehabilitation plan reduces the problems caused by the body’s imbalance if mastectomy has been the only treatment option. Our microsurgeon is available to guide with the reconstruction options.

Physical exercise during chemotherapy and radiation are important, yet physical activity should be done within appropriate measures.

Exercising helps maintain normal blood and lymphatic system circulation, while outdoor exercises make sure the body receives enough oxygen. Correct rehabilitation helps the body to recover from chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

In addition, physical activity helps to keep the patient’s morale high and to cope with anxious thoughts. During our treatment, our patients will feel good about themselves and get ready for total recovery.

At the end of the rehabilitation, our patients receive instructions on how to continue the treatment in the comfort of their own home.

Psychological rehabilitation

Rehabilitation - Psychological support

With the aid of psychological rehabilitation, the patient and her family will learn to understand the upcoming treatment and how it might affect the patient.

Our experienced psychologists will guide the patient on how to cope with a situation that might at times seem hopeless. They can help her to adjust to the challenging situation and to find enough strength to deal with the illness. The patient’s family might also benefit from the psychologist’s advice on how to best offer their support.

After the treatment is finished, the patient might fear that the illness could return. This may prevent her from enjoying life to the fullest. The psychologist will help in analysing the fears and reaching emotional balance. Many patients benefit from group -, or for example, art therapy.

Nutritional rehabilitation

Nutritional therapy

While receiving cancer treatment, some patients might suffer from metabolism problems or indigestion. Doctors and nutritionists will help in fixing those problems. With an appropriate diet, body balance issues can be solved, osteoprorosis prevented, immune system boosted and overall wellbeing enhanced, so that the patient is ready to return to their normal life.

Lymph Therapy

Rehabilitation

After the removal of underarm lymph nodes, an important phase of the treatment is preventing and treating lymphostasis.

Nowadays, thanks to the sentinel lymph node examination, in many cases removal of the armpit lymph nodes can be avoided. This also prevents hand lymphostasis.

If however, the evacuation is needed, rehabilitation should start immediately after the operation. Currently, many forms of preventions and treatment are used (lymphatic massage, pressure care, LPG, etc.). If these methods are not enough to alleviate the swelling, we can consider surgical methods.

Fertility therapy

Rehabilitation and fertility

Breast cancer can affect also young women in the prime of their fertility. For a patient who in the future wishes to have children the oncologist will adjust the treatment plan in a way that allows future pregnancies after the cancer treatment is over. 

Sexology

Sexual therapy in rehabilitation

Sex life is part of returning to a good quality of life and it can be affected by the cancer treatment. Our sexual therapist will answer questions about the challenges in sex life and gives advice on how to overcome them.

Beauty and femininity

Beauty and femininity

Breast cancer care takes up a lot of mental strength and sometimes even losses in one’s physical appearance can occur. Luckily, all these losses can be regained. With reconstructive surgery patient’s breast can be rebuilt using the patient’s own tissue.

The outcome of these kinds of reconstructions is the most natural. Our head surgeon PhD Helena Puonti has even developed a unique method with which not only the shape of the breast can be reconstructed, but the breast will also be sensing.

In case of hair and skin health-related questions, we have our dedicated cosmetologist ready to help and if more drastic changes are wanted, aesthetic surgery is an option. 

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