Occupational Therapy and Mesothelioma

  • Rodney Hemingway


Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleural lining of the thorax caused by asbestos (Wagner et al., Br J Ind Med. 1960;17:260–71, 1960). It is an aggressive cancer which can cause all manner of symptoms including severe dyspnea, pain, and wasting. Occupational therapy is a rehabilitation discipline that helps patients function in their environments through the use of meaningful activities (American Occupational Therapy Association, Am J Occup Ther. 2002;56(6):609–39, 2002). The occupational therapist will assess the ability of the patient with mesothelioma to complete daily living skills such as bathing, dressing, transfers, and other household tasks. This chapter will discuss various strategies and equipment that the occupational therapist may bring to bear during treatment sessions. Occupational therapy is appropriate to be referred in at all stages of treatment and is also uniquely suited to help the patient in remission establish the ability to return to work. Upon completion of this chapter, the reader will have a better understanding of what occupational therapy is, its role in mesothelioma care, and what the discipline can offer from the initial inpatient treatment phase to home care to palliative care.


  1. American Occupational Therapy Association. Occupational therapy practice framework: domain and process. Am J Occup Ther. 2002;56(6):609–39.Google Scholar
  2. American Occupational Therapy Association. Occupational therapy services in facilitating work participation and performance. Am J Occup Ther. 2017;71(Suppl. 2):7112410010p1–7112410010p10.Google Scholar
  3. Becklake MR, Bagatin E, Neder JA. Asbestos related diseases of the lung and pleura: uses, trends, and management over the last century. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2007;11(4):356–69.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Borg GAV. Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1982;14(5):377–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cooper J. Occupational therapy in oncology and palliative care. West Sussex: Whurr Publishers Limited; 2006.Google Scholar
  6. Crisafulli E, Clini EM. Measures of dyspnea in pulmonary rehabilitation. Multidiscip Respir Med. 2010;5(3):202–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duncan PW, Weiner DK, Chandler J, Studenski S. Functional reach: a new clinical measure of balance. J Gerontol. Nov 1990;45(6):M192–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dunlop WJ. A brief history of occupational therapy. Can J Occup Ther. 1933;1(1):6–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gibson L, Strong J. A conceptual framework of functional capacity evaluation for occupational therapy in work rehabilitation. Aust Occup Ther J. 2003;50:64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Joss M. The importance of job analysis in occupational therapy. Br J Occup Ther. 2007;70(7):301–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Keith RA, Granger CV, Hamilton BB, Sherwin FS. The functional independence measure: a new tool for rehabilitation. Adv Clin Rehabil. 1987;1:6–18.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Moffat M. A history of physical therapy education around the world. J Phys Ther Educ. 2012;26(1):13–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Morrison RS, Meier DE. Palliative care. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:2582–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Røe OD, Stella GM. Malignant pleural mesothelioma: history, controversy and future of a man made epidemic. Eur Respir Rev. 2015;24:115–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schule K. Thirty years of physical activity in oncology in Germany – from the birth of the first rehabilitative cancer sports group until today. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2013;10:61–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sowden AJ, Forbes C, Entwistle V, Watt I. Informing, communicating, and sharing decisions with people who have cancer. Qual Health Care. 2001;10:193–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Strong J. Occupational therapy and cancer rehabilitation. Br J Occup Ther. 1987;50(1):4–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Suckley N. Assessing fitness for work: a guide. Occup Health. 2017;69(3):22–4.Google Scholar
  19. Wagner JC, Sleggs CA, Marchand P. Diffuse pleural mesothelioma and asbestos exposure in the north western cape district. Br J Ind Med. 1960;17:260–71.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Whitney SL, Poole JL, Cass SP. A review of balance instruments for older adults. Am J Occup Ther. 1998;52(8):666–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodney Hemingway
    • 1
  1. 1.Mesothelioma Applied Research FoundationWashington, DCUSA

Personalised recommendations