Peoria, Ill.,
11:33 AM

Health Highlights: Aquatherapy + Brachytherapy

New, potentially life-saving options for cancer patients are coming to Illinois.  And  how therapy and water go hand in hand. 

The 180,000 square foot OSF HealthCare Cancer Institute opens this month in Peoria. 

In addition to proton therapy, it will include a new suite for highly targeted radiation called Brachytherapy. It's a lesser-known treatment option that can boost survival rates by as much as 20% over traditional external beam radiation. 

James McGee, MD, the Founding Director of the OSF Cancer Institute, says the precision applicators offer better control and can better preserve healthy tissue.

“Placing a radiation source directly into the patient’s tumor allows for many advantages. In this way, the radiation is not going through normal tissues and has much less normal tissue effect. At the same time, it creates the need to be very individualized and very creative.," Dr. McGee says. 

Brachytherapy reduces treatment and recovery time, along with side-effects and complications. It can be done as standalone therapy or following a treatment course of chemotherapy and traditional radiation.

While cold temperatures flow in  and out of the Midwest this winter, it's no excuse to not take care of physical ailments that can benefit from aquatic physical therapy.

Working with an experienced therapist in a pool, patients who require aquatic therapy may experience ease of movement without pain, relaxing muscles, increased strength and better endurance. 

Nicole Bartoszek, physical therapy assistant with OSF HealthCare, says all of this can help the spine and joints while improving lung performance.

“It's a good medium to work in and especially with people who are high risk for falls and balance because you have the buoyancy of the water to help with that," Bartoszek says. "And if there's someone who has a really hard time or is in pain, and has a hard time exercising on land, a pool is a good alternative because it's so much easier on the joints and the warm water helps with relaxation and pain.”

There are many people who benefit from water therapy including those who have suffered a stroke, people with balance or gait issues, and kids experiencing sensory processing disorders

Among the most common exercises offered are gentle stretching and floating exercises, strengthening work, balance training and cardiovascular conditioning.

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