Deconditioning is a term used mainly in occupational therapy to describe the results of being under shock and immobile for a period of time. Symptoms include:

  • Decreased mental agility.
  • Difficulty with the activities of daily living.[1]

Muscles are weakened from disuse, which affects the joints and balance. Deconditioning can generate many physical and health problems that are compounded by the side effects of cancer and its treatment. Respiratory problems related to prolonged immobility such as pneumonia and fluid build-up causing infections can also develop. Breathing performance can be improved by rehabilitation exercises, including deep breathing techniques, stretching and strengthening of the abdominal muscles and aerobic exercise.

Deconditioning has an effect on the cardiovascular system as well. One of the most dangerous side effects of being immobile is DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which consists of a blood clot blocking a deep vein. This can be a deadly condition if the clot travels to the heart, lung or brain. Rehabilitation is very important in this case since exercise increases blood flow and reduces the chances of a DVT.[2]