Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part—most often the extremities, but also the face, neck, abdomen or genitals—and is the result of the abnormal accumulation of protein-rich edema fluid in the affected area. Primary lymphedema has an early onset beginning at birth or adolescents and secondary lymphedema may be caused by radiation therapy, significant trauma (lymph nodes or lymph vessel removal), infectious episodes (cellulitis), surgical procedures (coronary bypass), cancer, obesity and/or chronic venous insufficiency. The swelling may be painful or provide you with a heavy feeling. It can be disfiguring and even limit daily functional activities.
The lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels, nodes, and tissues. Its role is to remove impurities from the body's tissues and to produce cells that are vital in fighting infections. Lymph vessels transport fluid, called lymph, that passes through the nodes, where fluid is filtered.
The Lymphedema Management Program is led by Occupational Therapist Kayla Englehardt, MOT, OTR/L, CLT who is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. She participated successfully in the Manual Lymph Drainage (Vodder Technique) and Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) training program at the Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy.
What are the symptoms of lymphedema?
- Heavy feeling in the arms or legs.
- Swelling in your chest/breast, arm, hand, leg, face or neck.
- A tight sensation in your chest/breast, arm hand, leg, face or neck.
- Decreased flexibility in your arm, leg, face or neck.
- Clothing and/or jewelry fitting tightly.
- Skin may "pit" with any finger pressure.
- Increased difficulty with activities of daily living.
The Mary Rutan Hospital Lymphedema Management Center has specialists that have been trained to provide you with individualized treatment plans that will include the following:
- Screening process: brief review of medical history via phone call to assess for appropriateness of further treatment.
- Evaluation: to determine your therapy needs.
- Manual lymphatic drainage: soft and gentle "massage" to help the lymphatic system drain fluid.
- Multi layer compression bandaging: layered bandages used strategically to apply pressure to help reduce swelling.
- Education and exercises on prevention and precautions: important information and demonstrations regarding lymphedema prevention and precautions.
- Compression garment fitting and training to maintain decreased girth by applying pressure to help fluid drain from swollen areas.
How do I receive lymphedema management services?
To initiate occupational therapy services at Mary Rutan Hospital Lymphedema Management Center, we need a prescription from your primary care physician ordering occupational therapy services for the diagnosis of lymphedema.
Call 937.593.0822 to schedule an initial evaluation at our Bellefontaine location.