Introduction to Special Issue

Introduction to Special Issue

Gudas, Steve

It is said that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. This special issue of Rehabilitation Oncology opens a new door in cancer rehabilitation literature in that it represents the collective research of one cancer center. It is indeed fitting that this is Memorial Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York City. Long a major player in cancer treatment, Memorial enjoys the distinction of literally being the earliest founder in the field of cancer rehabilitation. In 1965 a combined multidisciplinary conference on research needs in the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities resulting from cancer was held at the New York University Medical Center’s Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, spearheaded by the institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration. The eminent Howard Rusk, MD chaired the conference. Memorial Hospital began a pilot study later that year for a postgraduate project in rehabilitation of the cancer patient. Further support was generated in 1967 when MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston, Texas wrote a proposal for justification for a Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at that institution. Thus cancer rehabilitation was formally born. Prior to the mid 60s, even cancer centers had made only fragmentary efforts to provide rehabilitation services to cancer patients.

Dr Herbert Dietz, Chief of Rehabilitation Services at Memorial Hospital, Guy Robbins, MD, Chief of Breast Services, and Sandra Holz, PT, Director of Physical Therapy, all were professionally active at the hospital in the early 1970s, culminating in the publication of Dr Dietz’s, Rehabilitation Oncology, a seminal work in the field and our journal’s namesake, in 1981. Our section was inaugurated a few years later and the rest has transpired nicely, responding to the changing needs of the patients over the years.

In June 1999, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center sponsored a major 2-day cancer rehabilitation conference, the proceedings of which were published, with permission, in Vol 17 No 3 and Vol 18 No 1 of our journal. Theresa Fitzpatrick, PT, MBA, Rehabilitation Coordinator, and Roya Ghazinouri, PT, MS, Assistant Chief and Director of Research, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, have now joined their efforts and encouraged their staff to prepare 5 excellent manuscripts for Rehabilitation Oncology. These papers are illustrative of the creativity and initiative displayed in the rehabilitation work performed at Memorial, a center unsurpassed in the sheer volume and variety of patients observed.

Kudos to these individuals for their admirable achievement; we are most delighted to share their efforts with our readers in this issue. It is wonderful to observe that the excellent legacy in cancer rehabilitation, established almost a half century ago at Memorial, is continuing both nurtured and sustained. The emulable contributions of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the area of cancer rehabilitation serve as a model upon which we can generate future directions in the field.

Steve Gudas, PT, PhD


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