The benefits of occupational therapy go far beyond the office, helping cancer patients thrive at home and in the workplace. &ldquo;What we do as occupational therapists is evaluate and treat patients who cannot fully participate in the things they want or need to do because of side effects of their cancer treatment,&rdquo; says Sara Pope-Davis, MOT, OTR/L, a James outpatient occupational therapist. &ldquo;We focus on how we can best help them safely go about their daily activities.&rdquo; Despite the term &ldquo;occupational,&rdquo; Pope-Davis and her colleagues help patients with all aspects of their daily lives, including self-care, home management, errands, family and friend interactions, and more. The issues In the outpatient setting, there are three major issues occupational therapists help patients with, according to Pope-Davis: Peripheral neuropathy: This can be tingling, numbness and/or pain or loss of sensitivity in the extremities and can occur as a side effect of chemotherapy. Chemo brain: Also called &ldquo;brain fog,&rdquo; this can result from cancer-related treatments. Cognitive issues range from mild to severe and include forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, difficulty multitasking, losing one&rsquo;s train of thought and difficulty finding words during a conversation. Fatigue The treatments Peripheral neuropathy This is a great example of the team approach utilized at The James. Physical therapists lead patients through a series of exercises that can reduce their symptoms and address any balance or walking issues. Occupational therapists help patients adapt to their peripheral neuropathy, utilizing coping strategies and techniques, such as safety tips, sensory or coordination exercises and adaptive equipment. &ldquo;Because a patient can lose sensation, there can be safety issues at home &mdash; they could burn or cut themselves more easily,&rdquo; Pope-Davis says. &ldquo;Their coordination can be impaired, so we help them compensate and introduce adaptive devices and techniques so they can safely do all the things they need to do.&rdquo; Chemo brain The level of cognitive disruption and how long it lasts varies in every patient, so James occupational therapists devise individual game plans for everyone they work with. &ldquo;We help our patients devise strategies so they can be better at planning, organizing and multitasking,&rdquo; Pope-Davis says. &ldquo;For example, we help them create daily planners and to-do lists.&rdquo; Fatigue Patients with chemo brain also seem to be more prone to fatigue, so the suggested treatments can help with cognitive issues and sleep problems. &ldquo;We educate patients on energy conservation concepts and strategies, which involve pacing, planning and organizing daily routines to allow rest breaks, doing large tasks in smaller increments, prioritizing, delegating and setting appropriate standards,&rdquo; Pope-Davis says. Patients are also introduced to the basic concepts of mindfulness and meditation. &ldquo;Something they can do for a few minutes throughout the day that helps them with fatigue management and focus/concentration,&rdquo; Pope-Davis says. These exercises can also help improve a patient&rsquo;s ability to fall and remain asleep &mdash; a problem many cancer patients face. The benefits Pope-Davis says that many patients arrive for their first therapy sessions anxious and concerned. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re worried about whether they can still do their jobs, manage their households or get back to school,&rdquo; she says, adding that having someone to talk to who understands their problems can greatly reduce patients&rsquo; overall levels of anxiety. &ldquo;We talk about how they can plan and organize their daily activities, and how they can manage it, rather than it managing them,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;We also talk about some of the things in their lives that may be causing them stress that aren&rsquo;t necessary. Maybe they don&rsquo;t have to be the super-multitaskers they used to be, for now.&rdquo; Learn more about our team at The James Supportive Care Clinic, which provides occupational therapy and many other services for cancer patients and survivors.