Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Jyothi Gupta, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA


Little is known about the experiences of rehabilitation therapists treating soft tissue sarcoma (STS) patients in the outpatient setting. As the number of survivors of STS increases, so does the need for therapists who have the knowledge and skillsets vital for providing the highest quality of holistic care for this unique cancer population. Holistic cancer rehabilitation includes considerations for the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial needs of the soft tissue sarcoma patient. This paper explores the subspeciality of cancer rehabilitation and the experiences of physical therapists (PT) treating STS patients in the outpatient setting. A secondary aim of this study is to demonstrate the value of occupational therapy (OT) services for STS patients in outpatient clinics. Primary data were semi structured interviews with three PTs who work in a Select Medical affiliated outpatient clinic and have direct experience with rehabbing STS post medical intervention. All data were transcribed and coded using the ICF classification codes. Framework analysis was used to examine the data. PTs encounter barriers when treating STS as a result of the lack of evidence in the literature and no clinical guidelines. The current study found that PTs in the outpatient setting are using physical assessments and interventions on STS patients that are regularly used to physically rehabilitate patients with other cancer types who have undergone surgical intervention and/or radiation therapy. Furthermore, the data suggests there are barriers STS patients encounter that cannot be addressed by outpatient physical therapists, however the barriers can be addressed by their interdisciplinary counterparts: occupational therapists, whose scope of practice allows for treating the cognitive and psychosocial impairments that PTs cannot. More research is needed to develop an evidence base for best practice rehabilitation interventions for STS. Physicians and PTs who treat STS could benefit from additional education on the purpose of OT in outpatient settings and the ways OTs can support cancer patients with cognitive and psychosocial limitations.