Medical Minute: Physical Therapy for the Treatment of Lymphedema

Hi, my name is Rohini Moholkar, I’m a
Physical Therapist and a Certified Lymphedema Therapist working at the
Rehab Department of Reliant Medical Group at Gold Star Boulevard. I’m
here today to talk about lymphedema. Lymphedema is a very niche diagnosis
that a few therapists at Reliant Medical Group can help treat. Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of lymphatic fluid in the body. Now this can occur
anywhere, but the commonest diagnosis that we see is status post breast cancer.
Now this might involve removal of lymph nodes or it could be damage to the lymph
nodes from radiation. Lymphedema can be quite distressing emotionally and can
also cause a severe functional limitation, with the swelling that is
noted in the arm. Now with our very tech savvy patients,
who Google everything nowadays, they are horrified to see the images, but we at
Reliant Medical Group take it upon us to reassure our patients and educate them,
that lymphedema, though it cannot be cured, can definitely be controlled. When
we get a referral for lymphedema from the physician, we do a very thorough
evaluation on the patient. Now this evaluation comprises, a major
part of which comprises, of calculating limb volumes. For this, we have a
state-of-the-art computerized system that gives us the measurements in
milliliters, and we can keep track of these measurements, throughout the
treatment and on discharge, and if a patient follows up in physical therapy.
Now during, at the end of the evaluation, we come up with an individualized
treatment plan. This would consist of patient education. Patient education involves having the power to control the lymphedema, knowing
what are the signs of infection, skin care, and basically lymphedema
precautions. Now the Certified Lymphedema Therapist then carry out manual
lymphatic drainage, which is a part of complete decongestant therapy. Manual
lymphatic drainage involves pushing all the fluid towards the center and having
the body eliminated. Also, we want to maintain and keep that reduction, so we
prescribe appropriate compression garments. These are daytime and nighttime garments. Then we also round up with a complete
exercise program, because we want our patients to regain that function that
they have lost, and also try to go up on whatever they can do in life. If you feel
that you or someone you know suffers from lymphedema, and will benefit from
our services, please don’t hesitate to contact us, and thank you for listening
to me.

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