A Case Report on the Communication between Oncologists and Physiatrists in the Establishment of Functional Prognosis while Undergoing Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell Therapy

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Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy can have severe toxicities, which include CAR-T-cell-related encephalopathy syndrome (CRES). The patient may present with altered mental status, encephalopathy, seizures, and cerebral edema. Depending on the severity, the recovery process will require rehabilitation. We present a case and explain how communication between cancer physiatrists, oncologists, and patients can affect the expectations for functional recovery, and the importance of setting goals for recovery in a medically complex population. We present a patient who underwent aggressive chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy, causing encephalopathy and complications. He initially required total assistance for mobility and activities of daily living. Physiatry was consulted to assist with the rehabilitation plan of care and disposition. Initially, the oncologist conveyed to the patient he would be walking in two weeks, which was unrealistically optimistic. The patient's physiatrist intervened and discussed these expectations with him, alleviating his emotional distress. His condition improved with inpatient rehabilitation, and he was able to ambulate short distances with modified independence in four weeks. The involvement of a cancer physiatrist allows for recognition and treatment of complications related to cancer and aggressive therapies, along with an accurate functional prognosis assessment. With improved communication and patient involvement, the patient underwent a successful rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-97
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of medicine and life
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020



  • activities of daily living
  • Activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • CAR-T-cell-related encephalopathy syndrome (CRES)
  • Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)
  • Communication
  • Cytokine-release syndrome (CRS)
  • goals
  • medical oncology
  • oncologists
  • physiatrists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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