Patients with lymphedema suffer from a disruption of the lymphatic system that causes swelling in one or more limbs, the trunk, or the neck and face, that doesn’t subside with elevation. Risk factors for patients with untreated or mismanaged symptoms include excessive swelling and cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial skin infection. While this chronic condition isn’t curable, it can be managed with a treatment called Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT).
“Treatment begins with manual lymphatic draining, a specific massage technique designed to increase the uptake of fluid by the lymphatic system,” said Valerie Skroch, Certified Lymphedema Therapist and Physical Therapist with Morris Hospital. “This is followed by skin care and compression bandaging that improves the quality of the skin and tissues, and decreases the size of the affected area. Range of motion exercises are performed to help maintain joint mobility, and a muscle pump helps move the fluid. The goal is to decrease the swollen area, and to transition from a compression bandage to a compression stocking.”
In order to provide CDT treatments, Certified Lymphedema Therapists are required to complete 135 hours of additional training. “Therapy appointments range from 60 to 90 minutes, and can be 2 to 5 times/week, depending on the severity of the lymphedema,” added Skroch. “The wonderful thing about this treatment is that patients can see a visible change in their swelling after just one visit.”
Patients continue therapy until the girth or limb circumference stabilizes and is no longer reducing in size. “At that point, patients are measured and fit with a compression garment to wear every day,” said Skroch. “Our program educates patients how to successfully manage the condition on their own; we also provide information about community resources and prevention strategies.”
Patients are encouraged to bring a family member or caregiver to treatment sessions so they can understand the condition and assist patients as needed. For more information, please contact:
Diagnostic & Rehabilitative Center of Morris Hospital
100 W. Gore Road
Phone: (815) 364-8919