Are soft tissue therapies and Kinesio Taping useful for symptom management in palliative care? Three case reports.
By Advances in Palliative Medicine | 01 March 2010
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ABSTRACT: Physiotherapy may improve the quality of life of patients provided with palliative care. In this article the authors present three cases of advanced cancer patients whose symptoms were successfully treated with various methods of physiotherapy, such as soft tissue therapy and Kinesio Taping. The authors show that a physiotherapist, as part of a multidisciplinary team, plays an important role in the care of patients with progressive diseases. Physiotherapy can minimize the complications and effects of a disease and optimize patient's condition.

INTRODUCTION AND SCOPE: Palliative care focuses on the physical, psychological and spiritual care of patients with progressive diseases, aiming to provide the best quality of life for the patients and their carers. Physiotherapy is an important part of palliative care. According to Fulton and Else, physiotherapy aims to optimize a patient's level of physical function and takes into consideration the interplay between the physical, psychological, social, and vocational domains of functions [1]. Physiotherapy is a rapidly-expanding field. The number of techniques and therapeutic methods which give therapists an opportunity to work with patients more effectively has been constantly increasing. They include, among others, soft tissue therapy (STT) and Kinesio Taping.

Soft tissue therapy (STT) is the assessment and treatment of soft tissue injuries, pain and dysfunctions of the neuromusculoskeletal system. Soft tissue therapy includes a number of techniques (see Table 1), which can be used to treat various conditions. These techniques influence the muscles, fascia, skin and nervous system. An understanding of the body's multilayer structure and the possibility to work with soft tissue selectively are fundamental to the treatment. Thus, STT focuses on the relaxation and lengthening of the tissue as well as the release of tension. Treatment approaches can be categorized as being direct and indirect, active and passive, gentle or mechanically invasive and all have value in their appropriate settings [2]. Gentle approaches are more common in palliative care and therapists are often limited to passive techniques due to the poor general condition of patients in the advanced stages of disease. In this article the authors present three advanced cancer patients, whose unbearable symptoms were successfully treated with some of the STT techniques. The patients were also treated using Kinesio Taping, which consists of using special tapes modelled on the skin's characteristics. The positive results of Kinesio Taping can be explained by the improvement in blood and lymphatic circulation, activation of the endogenous analgesic system and the support or correction of joint functions [3].

The cases presented below focus on the techniques used in each physiotherapy intervention and how they benefited the patients.

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