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Outpatient Services > About the Lymphedema Management Program

The Lymphedema Management Program

Physical Therapy & Rehab Services offers a comprehensive treatment program for the management of individuals suffering from lymphedema. Compassionate therapists with specialized training in lymphedema will attend to each patient on a one-to-one basis.

Signs of Lymphedema

The first sign of lymphedema is a visible, measurable swelling of an arm or leg. This swelling may be accompanied by a sensation of heaviness in the limb along with warmth and pain.   If untreated, the swelling will increase, causing the affected area to become hard and reducing mobility.

Treatment Methods

Lymphedema treatment was first developed in Germany and Austria, and has recently made its way to North America. There are two stages to lymphedema treatment.

  • Reduction Phase - involves intensive treatment to reduce the size of the extremity by a combination of manual therapy and compression bandaging.
  • Maintenance Phase - includes low intensity long-term treatment to maintain the reduction.

The approach used at our program is referred to as Complete Decongestive Physiotherapy (CDP). It is a safe, rapid and effective treatment, consisting of the following four steps:
1. Hygiene and topical skin care
2. Manual lymph drainage by massage
3. Compression bandaging and garment
4. Exercise, elevation, and education

The purpose of CDP is to improve central lymph flow by opening the non-functioning lymphatic system through massage. The real importance of our program is that patients are taught the CDP method during their treatment sessions, so they can continue to improve at home.

Program Expertise

The lymphedema program is administered by registered and certified physical medicine professionals who have undergone intensive training.

Program Length

A typical course of treatment is three to five times a week, for as long as four to six weeks. The time required to reduce the size of the swollen limb to near normal size will vary. In general the earlier the treatment is begun the shorter the length of treatment. The initial visit for evaluation may take up to two hours. Subsequent visits are between 1 to 11/2 hours.

Successful lymphedema management is time consuming and requires personal commitment from both patient and the treating specialist. When the commitment to a comprehensive approach has been made, the results are very positive.

How To Enroll For Treatment

Our services can be accessed through direct referral from a physician or other health care professional, home health agency, or self-referral. Coverage for our services varies by insurance plan and pre-authorization may be required.

For more information or to make an appointment, call Physical Therapy & Rehab Services at 717-544-3270.

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