The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth School of Health Professions has opened an expansion of FitSteps for Life that offers free individualized exercise for cancer patients and survivors.
Called HSC Physical Health, the center is in a new 3,751-square-foot location at 6913 Camp Bowie Blvd. and sits within the NeuroKinetix/Neurological Recovery Center, the Health Science Center said. A statewide program, FitSteps for Life specializes in cancer exercise treatment — prescribing individualized and structured exercise specifically for cancer patients. The HSC branch of FitSteps opened in June 2019.
“This expansion allows the program at HSC to grow in terms of space and services,” Dr. J. Glenn Forister, dean of the School of Health Professions, said in a statement. “We have a broad range of exercise equipment available to participants recovering from cancer treatment to help them reach their full potential. The space also will afford the opportunity to our physical therapy faculty to provide services, conduct research, and spur innovation, which will in turn provide experiences for our students to work in a hands-on environment with mentors.”
‘Something to look forward to again’
The Health Science Center said that when patients are referred to the program, they first meet with an exercise specialist for an hourlong session to develop a plan tailored to their capabilities and needs. The specialist can assist them with home exercise programs, ambulatory equipment training, gait and transfer training, balance and stability training, and more, HSC said.
The program is open to any cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers. To enroll, a patient must have a referral from a primary care physician or oncologist. HSC said the FitSteps for Life program is free for the patient’s lifetime.
“I learned about FitSteps while being treated for lung cancer,” a cancer survivor who has used the program said. “I had to do something to help my body fight this cancer. I noticed after exercising that I had less nausea, more energy and actually wanted to eat. I just felt better. They helped me build up my strength, and I was even able to start walking without my oxygen tank. I finally had something to look forward to again.”
Beyond exercise: healthy meals and massage
In addition to exercise regimens, FitSteps for Life offers Cuisine for Healing, which provides free, healthy meals for cancer patients through its outreach initiative, and Shine Therapy oncology massage, which has been shown to ease the emotional and physical stress of treatment and recovery, HSC said.
FitSteps for Life at HSC has broad-based public support from donors, including the Rutledge Cancer Foundation, Cancer Foundation for Life, The Morris Foundation, the Crystelle Waggoner Charitable Trust, Bank of America NA, Trustee and the support of several anonymous donors.
“We’re thrilled to be able to grow this service to more patients affected by cancer in our community,” said Dr. Misti Zablosky, chair and assistant professor in the Department of Lifestyle Health Sciences and FitSteps for Life Program Manager, said in a statement. “Since 2019, our location has served more than 500 individuals, and we are excited for the opportunity to help even more in our community by expanding our space and services.”
UNTHSC is partnering with Goff Capital and Techstars to make Fort Worth a global center for technological innovation in physical therapy and fitness with the Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator.
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