Dr. Katie Schmitt massages a patient's foot

Physical Therapy for Cancer Patients & Survivors

Physical therapy may be the last thing on your mind when you receive a cancer diagnosis, but it can be an important part of your treatment plan to improve your quality of life and help you return to your regular daily activities more quickly. MUSC Hollings Cancer Center has physical therapists specially trained to work with cancer patients who can help you before, during and after undergoing treatment.

Our holistic approach to care includes physical therapy for cancer patients onsite at our downtown Charleston and MUSC Health East Cooper locations so that you can schedule therapy visits on the same day as your other Hollings appointments.

Dr. Katie Schmitt guides a patient doing a physical therapy exercise with a metal bar

What is oncology rehab and physical therapy?

Our dedicated oncology physical therapists understand how cancer and cancer treatments may affect your body. A physical therapy plan is tailored to your needs based on the side effects that you may be experiencing. The goal is to help reduce pain and increase mobility so you can continue enjoying the day-to-day activities that are important to you, even as you move through the stages of your treatment.

How can oncology physical therapy help my cancer symptoms and side effects?

Cancer can throw you off balance — literally. As many cancer patients discover, both cancer and cancer treatment can cause unwelcome side effects, such as loss of balance and muscle weakness. But there are exercises and activities that can help to reduce these and other symptoms that may arise.

Physical therapy after cancer treatment can help you:

  • Reduce numbness and tingling (neuropathy issues)
  • Cope with swelling (lymphedema) and other side effects
  • Reduce cancer-related fatigue
  • Decrease pain
  • Improve balance and mobility
  • Reduce brain fog
  • Deal with radiation fibrosis
  • Improve strength and ability to engage in important daily activities
  • Address issues with graft-versus-host disease

Common conditions we treat

Our oncology physical therapy and rehab services can help manage and treat a variety of cancer-related issues, including:


Up to 85% of cancer patients experience neuropathy. It can feel like numbness, tingling or even walking on rocks. The Hollings oncology physical therapy program combines manual therapy, therapeutic exercises and balance training to decrease these symptoms.


Lymphedema is swelling caused by a buildup of lymph fluid. This can happen when surgery or radiation removes or damages lymph nodes. Swelling can also occur because of medication you are taking.

We can help you manage this swelling by showing you how to use compression wrapping, tape and compression garments. At our Mount Pleasant location, we also have a certified lymphedema therapist who treats any patients dealing with swelling and related issues.

Limited mobility

Whether it’s golfing, gardening or just walking around town, physical therapy can help with mobility. It’s not uncommon for patients to use assistive devices like canes, whether because of hip pain caused by sitting for so long during treatments or because of neuropathy and balance issues. Our goal is to get you walking again on your own.

Learn more about MUSC Health Physical Therapy programs.

Dr. Katie Schmitt does physical therapy exercises with a patient sitting on an exam table

Early intervention

Cancer physical therapy isn’t just about recovering from the effects of treatment after the fact. It’s also about preparing your body to begin treatment. Existing issues, like back or sciatic nerve pain, can be worsened by treatment, so a physical therapy consultation as soon as you receive your diagnosis may help you better prepare and prevent minor issues from becoming more of a problem.

Our oncology physical therapists

Dr. Katie Schmitt

Katie Schmitt, PT, DPT, CLT
Oncology Physical Therapist

Dr. Schmitt works full-time with cancer patients.

"More and more people are now realizing that physical therapy can really help cancer patients live a better life during and after treatment."

Renee Garrison

Renée Garrison, PT, MTC, CLT-LANA
Oncology Physical Therapist - MUSC Health East Cooper

Renée has a specialization in treating patients with lymphedema.

"I love treating cancer patients because it is extremely rewarding to help get people back to living their best lives. PT is a vital part of cancer treatment and survivorship."

Hours & location

Hollings Cancer Center

2nd Floor
86 Jonathan Lucas St.
Charleston, SC 29425

Monday through Thursday
7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
7:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

MUSC Health East Cooper

1280 Hospital Dr.
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Monday through Friday
7:15 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Schedule an appointment

At Hollings, treating patients is about more than just the cancer — it's about attending to the entire person. No matter what type or stage of cancer you have, our oncology physical therapy program can help you. Call us today at 843-792-9300 to make an appointment.

Refer a patient

For consultation or to make a referral, please call 843-792-9300.

MUSC Health providers may refer within EPIC for Physical Therapy at Hollings with Katie Schmitt, PT, DPT, CLT, and have their patients check out to make the appointment that day.