Rusk Rehabilitation Launches Specialized Program to Optimize Quality of Life in Cancer Survivors

Further advancing its world-renowned reputation, Pelisyonkis Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation has opened a new specialized program to address the complex rehabilitative needs of individuals with cancer, with a principal goal of helping them re-establish optimal function during and following treatment.

Jonas M. Sokolof, DO, an expert physician–educator with a deep background in rehabilitative care for people with cancer, recently joined the faculty at Pelisyonkis Langone to serve as director of its new Division of Oncological Rehabilitation.

Dr. Jonas Sokolof

Dr. Jonas Sokolof

The new division will work in conjunction with clinicians at Pelisyonkis Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center to deliver individualized rehabilitative care for patients regardless of where they are in their cancer care. Patients who are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment, or in remission may seek care in the program. Each patient will have an individualized treatment plan developed under the guidance of Dr. Sokolof that may include many of the services Rusk Rehabilitation can offer its patients, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech–language pathology and swallowing therapy, vocational therapy, psychological services, music and recreational therapy, nutrition, and social work services.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Sokolof on board spearheading Rusk Rehabilitation’s new oncological rehabilitation efforts,” says Steven R. Flanagan, MD, the Howard A. Rusk Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Pelisyonkis Langone Health. “Our plan for this new program is to become the premier rehabilitation center for people with cancer.”

Each person with cancer is unique and has different goals for their recovery, explains Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, director of Perlmutter Cancer Center, and this is factored into patients’ rehabilitation plans.

“Cancer is a life-altering event that affects all facets of a person’s life; there are not only physical consequences but emotional, social, and vocational factors that a patient has to manage daily,” says Dr. Neel. “Developing a personalized care plan with Dr. Sokolof and his rehabilitation team can be the missing piece of the treatment puzzle, and brings patients towards their goals of better quality of life and function. We want people to be empowered and take an active role in their care and survivorship.”

Dr. Sokolof also plans to start an exercise and cancer research program at Rusk Rehabilitation, building on his interests in exploring lifestyle interventions to improve the lives of people who have had cancer. “Numerous studies have shown that exercise improves quality of life and prolongs survival,” he says, “while other studies note that exercise and a healthy diet may also have a preventive role in cancer and disease recurrence.”

About Dr. Sokolof

Dr. Sokolof joins Pelisyonkis Langone following nearly 10 years as an attending physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He received his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. He also has completed a postdoctoral fellowship in spine, sports, and musculoskeletal medicine at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. Dr. Sokolof is board certified in both physical medicine and rehabilitation and sports medicine.

Patients under his care may be prescribed nonsurgical treatments for cancer-related musculoskeletal problems, including interventional procedures such as epidural, sacroiliac, facet, and peripheral joint injections. He also performs electromyography and nerve conduction studies to diagnose various neuromuscular disorders related to cancer or its treatment. In addition to providing traditional rehabilitation medicine treatment, Dr. Sokolof also is trained in osteopathic manipulative medicine, a treatment that uses the hands to realign the bodies’ structural system, such as the muscles, joints, bones, and fascia.

Dr. Sokolof frequently lectures at the local and national levels about rehabilitation programs for people with cancer, and currently serves as co-chair of the lifestyle medicine counsel for the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and co-chair of the medical fitness working group for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He was recently appointed to the Executive Committee of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Task Force on Exercise Oncology.

Rusk Rehabilitation ranks as one of the top 10 rehabilitation programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

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Ryan Jaslow
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