By Felicity Ingraham
With the Bahamas having one of the highest per capita rate in the world when it comes to breast cancer cases, the disease is a real concern for the nation’s women.
It is a concern that Kitiboni Rolle-Adderley has taken very seriously in her work as a physical therapist.
She has been a physical therapist for nearly 20 years now, and is on a constant mission to improve her skills to help her clients.
Physical therapy is a branch of health care that is concerned with maximising a person’s function and improving a person’s overall quality of life.
The World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) describes physical therapy as services to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. This includes providing services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, pain, diseases, disorders, conditions or environmental factors. Functional movement is central to what it means to be healthy. The goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks and activities easier.
Through her work, Mrs Rolle-Adderley realised that there was a growing number of Bahamian women presenting with lymphedema (swelling) after going through breast surgery.
The surgery itself can be traumatising and definitely life-changing.
Mrs Rolle-Adderley feels that these women have gone through discomfort, and in some cases, disfigurement, after undergoing a mastectomy or other related procedures, and that they deserve to start the process of healing – inside and out.
For that reason, she developed her skills further, seeking to specialise in the areas her clients seemed to need most.
Continued education and skills training has led her to her current success. She is now certified as a lymphedema therapist, a Kinesio Taping practitioner, an edema specialist, a breast prosthetic fitter, a compression garment fitter, and a health coach.
“Oncology/cancer rehabilitation aims to return the patient to their pre-cancer physical condition, or even improve it and ensure physical wellness of the cancer patient, but is also there to provide palliative care for the patient if necessary,” she said.
In 2005, Mrs Rolle-Adderley launched her own enterprise called the Handling Your Health Wellness & Rehab Centre in the Summer Winds Plaza on Tonique Williams-Darling Highway.
Although primarily an orthopedic practice taking care of joints, muscles and the spine, Handling Your Health also specialises in cancer rehabilitation with an emphasis on lymphedema and breast cancer rehabilitation.
Cancer rehabilitation focuses specifically on the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment (surgery, chemotherapy and other drug therapies and radiation). Oncology rehabilitation works to minimise the physical symptoms of cancer treatment and provide wellness support for the patient along the cancer journey.
Known for her infectious personality and high standard of professionalism, Mrs Rolle-Adderley has formed life-long bonds with her clients, both women and men, and is on a mission to improve the quality of the lives of many Bahamians.
Seeing patients walk properly, work effectively on their jobs, exercise, and just enjoy the simple things in life without unnecessary levels of pain and discomfort gives her satisfaction that her work is not in vain.
Mrs Rolle-Adderley said she wants to encourage more people to consult a physical therapist prior to surgery in order to significantly improve their chances of a full recovery. As a health coach, she works to also ensure that diet and proper exercise designed specifically for each client based on their condition are integral parts of the pre-surgery and recovery process.
She is the current president of the Bahamas Association of Physical Therapists, an alumni of St Augustine’s College, and a proud wife and mother. To contact her or find out more about Handling Your Health, visit the centre’s Facebook or call: 322-5496 or 427-5820.