Lymphedema Therapy Program: What You Need to Know

Lymphedema Therapy Program: What You Need to Know

Did you know that over 10 million Americans are diagnosed with lymphedema and lymphatic diseases?

More people are living with these diseases in the United States than are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, ALS and Parkinson's Disease — combined.

The lymphatic system is a part of your immune system that guards against infection. Lymphedema occurs when there is a direct or indirect disruption of the lymphatic system in the form of surgery, radiation, injury and any trauma.

What is Lymphedema Therapy?

Lymphedema is most commonly associated with cancer treatments, which include removing lymph nodes through surgical procedures and/or radiation. For example, breast cancer survivors may develop lymphedema in their arm, hand, chest, head and/or neck. Patients presenting with cancer of the head and neck may develop swelling in the front of their neck or face. Gynecological cancers can cause lymphedema in the leg, foot, abdomen and genitalia.

Lymphedema can also be present at birth or develop during adolescence due to the malformation of the lymphatic system. In addition, this disease can manifest as a complication from chronic venous insufficiency, infection, obesity, wounds and blood clots. Lymphedema is a lifelong, chronic and ongoing condition. 

Certified Lymphedema Therapsists

At the Tallahassee Memorial Rehabilitation Center, over 12,000 patient sessions have been provided for lymphedema since 2010. Our team of occupational and physical therapists have specialized training in the treatment and management of lymphatic disorders. These Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLTs) also specialize in recovery and rehabilitation from complications that may arise during or after cancer treatments.

An evaluation by one of our CLTs includes baseline measurements in the area of swelling, education, extensive medical history review, assessment of range of motion, strength and functional independence. Our therapists also use cutting-edge technology, including the SOZO®, which is able to detect lymphedema at the subclinical level before it becomes an issue. Through this proactive approach to care, our CLTs can teach patients how to manage their chronic lymphedema condition.

Lymphedema therapy focuses on four components: manual lymphatic drainage, compression, exercise and skin care. Manual lymphatic drainage is a light massage that assists with moving the lymph fluid back into the circulatory system. Compression can be in the form of wraps and/or a sleeve or stocking to prevent more swelling. Exercises enhance the movement of lymph fluid. Meticulous skin care decreases risk for infection in the swollen areas.

Lymphedema Therapy Program

Our Lymphedema Therapy Program is an incredible expansion to the Walker Breast Program, which is a part of Florida’s longest continuously accredited comprehensive community hospital cancer program and the Big Bend region's only accredited breast program by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). The Walker Breast Program provides patients in the Big Bend region personalized, comprehensive and compassionate care for breast health. Offering a wide range of services, patients have access to advanced screenings for preventive care, diagnostics and testing, state-of-the-art treatments, as well as breast health education and support programs, all conveniently located on TMH’s campus. We also work closely with the Tallahassee Memorial Metabolic Health Center, Tallahassee Memorial Heart & Vascular Center and Tallahassee Memorial Wound Healing Center.

Contact Our Team

Should you or a loved one feel that you are in need of treatment for lymphedema, please speak with your physician about a referral to our lymphedema program. 

For more information visit our website or call the Tallahassee Memorial Rehabilitation Center at 850-431-5164

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