Dr. Jonas Sokolof graduated from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his PM&R residency at Harvard Medical School and his fellowship at the Kessler Institute. He joined NYU Langone Health and the Rusk Rehabilitation Institute in 2018 where he has served as director of oncological rehabilitation. His research interests include the role of lifestyle intervention in the rehabilitation of cancer patients.
Dr. Sokolof noted in Part 2 of his presentation that many patients may be reluctant to take medications. They don’t want injections and the last thing they look forward to is taking another drug or having something else done to them. Trismus is condition we often see in this population, developing from radiation. We tend to see it more as actual fibrosis of the muscles of mastication. Neuropathy also is quite common in this population. We often see it from the radiation itself. Post-radiation functional status and quality of life have a strong correlation with overall long-term survival in the head and neck cancer population. As physiatrists, not only do we have a role to play in restoring functioning, we are involved in altering the disease course itself. The fibrosis syndrome stemming from radiation is problematic and progressive. There is nothing out there so far that can cure it. An exciting emerging treatment in a study he is involved in at NYU is looking at photo biomodulation therapy or low-level laser light therapy. It is a technology used a lot in sports medicine to treat musculoskeletal pain and sports-related injuries. It basically is light therapy rather than heat therapy and works at the level of the mitochondria. The primary objective is to determine if this is a feasible treatment for head and neck cancer patients. He concluded by indicating that the earlier we can become involved in the whole cancer continuum as physiatrists the better, especially in radiation fibrosis. A question-and-answer question followed his presentation.