ASTYM – Helping Post-Mastectomy

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February 23, 2021
ASTYM – Helping Post-Mastectomy

The term Astym may be new to you. Astym therapy was designed to help mobilize soft tissues in order to promote healing. Astym is a form of therapy that helps regenerate healthy soft tissue like muscles and tendons. Through the process of Astym therapy, it reduces scar, degeneration and fibrosis tissues that could be causing pain or limiting your mobility. Here is a quick-link to the Astym therapy website for more general information.

Colleen Gruici, Physical Therapist in our Marlton location , was able to answer some questions about Astym for post mastectomy patients. Colleen not only has her doctorate in Physical Therapy but comes to Strive with 10 years of Astym experience. She considers Astym one of her passions and finds this technique extremely helpful in managing soft tissue injuries. She enjoys helping others and improving the lives of those she comes in contact with.

Although Astym physical therapy can be for a variety of soft tissue injuries, we’re going to focus on common questions about post mastectomy patients. Lingering impairments in movement from breast cancer treatment are common, but often go untreated. Scar tissue that may result from surgery and radiation can cause pain and restrict movement. Astym treatment can help resolve these problems, moving you toward a normal, pain-free life.


How did you learn about the use of ASTYM to treat post mastectomy patients?
I have been an Astym certified provider for more than 10 years.  Astym has several specialized treatment protocols including for Breast Cancer Survivors.  I first looked into the application while looking for a way to help a patient who was post mastectomy with restrictions in shoulder range of motion.

What exactly is ASTYM and how does it aid in the patients recovery from mastectomy?
Astym is a regenerative soft tissue treatment that is performed by a certified Physical or Occupational Therapist.  For a patient recovering from mastectomy or following radiation, this treatment can be helpful because it stimulates scar tissue resorption and remodeling of the dysfunctional tissues.
 
It’s a very personal and difficult time for a patient with breast cancer, they may also many other doctor appointments and requirements, is there any down time or increased symptoms after treatment?
A typical course of treatment with Astym will include treatment 2x week for 4 weeks.  The treatment includes stretching exercises and postural correction in addition to the manual intervention.  There is typically not a significant increase in symptoms after treatment, and there is no need for restricted activity following treatment.
 
Can all mastectomy patients benefit from this therapy?
Treatment is individualized and is only appropriate in the face of functional deficits, most often related to shoulder range of motion loss, but can be applied for pain modulation and desensitization as well.  Patients who have had a complete axillary dissection or sentinel node biopsy will frequently experience loss of full shoulder range of motion that can be functionally limiting.
 
What gives you the most satisfaction about treating post-mastectomy patients?
My goal is always to assist the patient in their ability to resume activities that they love to do.  So if this treatment can allow them to get back to cooking, painting, running or working with less difficulty, then I am completely satisfied.

Testimonial from Astym.com
Astym therapy has answered both the physical and emotional needs of her patients. (Lauren TeBrink, OTR/L)  “To see the hope I can provide these women is beyond impactful to me as a therapist. To tell them I can improve their range of motion, decrease their pain, help them wear a bra more comfortably, and most importantly, to help them feel more like themselves again.”

Colleen Gruici, PT, DPT, CHT
Read Colleen’s bio here.



More questions about PT and what to expect?  Email Colleen directly at cgruici@strivephysicaltherapy.com