Community Sports and Therapy Center is pleased to announce that one of their physical therapists, Melanie Sowers, DPT, has recently completed her extensive training to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT). Melanie completed her training in the four components of Complete Decongestive Therapy through the Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy.
The Community Sports and Therapy Center has provided specialty services for Lymphedema treatment for over ten years. Melanie has eight years of experience treating patients with Lymphedema. Melanie recently underwent further advanced training and completed the extensive coursework required to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. With this advanced training and certification Melanie will continue to provide the most current and up-to-date treatment for her patients with lymphedema.
“Treatment techniques for any condition change over the years and as our caseload of lymphedema patients continues to grow we wanted to make sure we were able to provide our patients with the most up-to-date treatment techniques available,” stated Melanie.
What exactly is lymphedema? Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part usually occurring in the one arm or leg, but it may be present in both arms or both legs. It can also occur in the hands or feet, or even in the chest, back, face, neck, abdomen, or genitals. It is the result of abnormal accumulation of protein-rich edema fluid in the affected area due to lymph vessels being unable to transport lymph fluid (or waste products) back into circulation, causing it to accumulate, resulting in chronic swelling. If left untreated it may result in hardening skin tissue. Lymphedema is a long-term condition that requires a change in lifestyle in certain ways to cope with it.
Research shows that although Lymphedema afflicts approximately 1% of the U.S. population (nearly 3 million Americans), there is a shortage of lymphedema information, and the problems it creates are poorly understood.
Lymphedema is classified as either primary or secondary. Primary lymphedema is caused by malformations of the lymphatic system, most commonly in women. Symptoms may be present at birth or may develop later, often during puberty or pregnancy and without obvious cause. Primary lymphedema is most common in the legs, but may also occur in the arms or torso. Secondary lymphedema is much more common and is the result of surgery or is a side effect of radiation therapy for cancer. It occurs most commonly in the arms, but may also develop in the legs. Secondary forms may also occur after traumatic injury, infection of the lymphatic system, or severe chronic venous insufficiency.
Initial symptoms of lymphedema include tightness or heaviness in the affected area as well as swelling characterized by “pitting’ which is recognizable when skin is depressed for a few seconds and the indentation does not immediately disappear.
Since there is no cure for lymphedema, the goal of treatment is to reduce the swelling and maintain the reduction. For a majority of patients, this can be achieved by the skillful application of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which is safe, reliable and non-invasive. This includes Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD), a gentle manual lymphatic therapy technique, to activate the lymphatic system, and move the lymph fluid out of the affection region and reduce the swelling. This is performed in conjunction with compression bandages to the affected areas.
Treatments are individualized per patient needs and performed three to five days a week, depending on the severity. Once swelling is reduced the patient is fitted with a graduated compression garment, educated on ongoing self-care and performing self-manual lymph drainage and therapeutic exercises.
“It is very rewarding to see the improvement in patient’s conditions as we work with them,” Melanie stated. “We spend a lengthy amount of time with our patients and really get to know them on a personal level while we treat them. It is a very gratifying experience.”
Robert J. Hibner, MS, PT
CEO, Community Sports and Therapy Center
800 W. Main St.
Coldwater, Ohio 45828