HSC Physical Health opens, expanding FitSteps for Life

Pt Students 00032The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth School of Health Professions has opened HSC Physical Health, an expansion of FitSteps for Life, the only location in Fort Worth offering free individualized exercise therapy to cancer patients and survivors.

HSC Physical Health’s new 3,751-square-foot location, 6913 Camp Bowie Blvd., sits within the NeuroKinetix/Neurological Recovery Center. FitSteps for Life is a statewide program specializing 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,” said Dr. J. Glenn Forister, dean of the School of Health Professions. “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 our physical therapy faculty the opportunity to provide services, conduct research and spur innovation, which will provide experiences for our students to work in a hands-on environment with mentors.”

How FitSteps for Life Benefits Cancer Patients

When patients are referred to the program, they initially meet with an exercise specialist for an hour-long session to develop a plan tailored to their capabilities and needs. The exercise specialist can assist them with home exercise programs, ambulatory equipment training, gait and transfer training, balance and stability training, and more.

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. The FitSteps for Life program is free for the lifetime of the patient.

“I learned about FitSteps while being treated for lung cancer,” said a cancer survivor who has used the program. “I had to do something to help my body fight this cancer. After exercising, I had less nausea, more energy and actually wanted to eat. I just felt better. They helped me build my strength, and I could even start walking without my oxygen tank. I finally had something to look forward to again.”

In addition to exercise regiments, 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.

FitSteps for Life at HSC is possible thanks to broad-based public support from generous donors, including the Rutledge Cancer Foundation, Cancer Foundation for Life, The Morris Foundation, the Crystelle Waggoner Charitable Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee and the additional generosity 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. “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.”

For more information about FitSteps for Life at HSC, visit https://unthsc.edu/patient-care/fitsteps-for-life-at-unthsc/.

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