Open Access Capstone
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
Background: Currently there is sufficient evidence indicating safety with upper extremity resistive exercise among those at risk for developing breast cancer related lymphedema. However, there is insufficient evidence of the benefits of pre-operative lymphedema prevention education, upper body strengthening exercises, and strategies to continue or resume physically demanding activities that breast cancer survivors need to do, want to do, or are expected to do.
Purpose: This project described the impact pre-operative education has on activity participation, and perceived upper extremity function among individuals diagnosed with breast cancer compared to those who do not receive pre-operative education. The capstone project aimed to (a) describe and compare activity participation rates among individuals diagnosed with breast cancer who attended pre-operative education and those who did not attend pre-operative education and (b) describe and compare perceived arm function among individuals diagnosed with breast cancer who attended pre-operative education and those who did not attend pre-operative education.
Theoretical Framework: Data gathered within this observational study was organized by the Person, Environment, Occupation, and performance model to illustrate the factors impacting the individual with breast cancer’s ability to perform occupations that were important to them.
Methods: A static group comparison research design was used to compare breast cancer survivors’ perceived arm function and activity level among those seen pre-operatively and postoperatively and post-operatively only. Disability, Arm, Shoulder, Hand (DASH) assessment and Activity Card Sort-modified (ACSm) scores were graphically compared and described.
Results: Among those survivors seen pre-operatively and post-operatively, DASH scores indicated higher perceived arm function when compared to those seen post-operatively only. Additionally, ASCm overall activity participation scores were higher among those survivors who were seen pre-operatively and post-operatively versus those seen post-operatively only.
Conclusions: This pilot study illustrated that it was feasible for occupational therapy to provide lymphedema prevention education, upper body exercises and strategies to safely complete physically demanding activities pre-operatively. The findings from this small sample are promising. There is a need for further research with a larger population to determine if preoperative occupational therapy is associated with higher rates of participation in physically demanding activities and greater perceived arm function.
Anne Fleischer PhD, MPH, OT/L, CLT-LANA
Cheryl Carrico, MS, OT/L
2021 Stephanie R. Rexing
Rexing, Stephanie R., "Does Pre-operative Education Increase Activity Participation and Decrease Perceived Arm Dysfunction in Breast Cancer Patients?" (2021). Occupational Therapy Doctorate Capstone Projects. 70.
IRB Approval Number (if applicable)