Trinity Health offers full support services for those patients dealing with lymphedema. Lymphedema is a result of protein rich fluid causing swelling to a body part, most often found in the extremities. It is progressive and if left untreated can lead to further problems. Lymphedema may be primary or secondary. Primary lymphedema is caused by congenital malformations. Secondary lymphedema is caused by the result of surgery or damage to lymph nodes. Severe venous insufficiencies may also cause lymphedema. The highest incidence in the United States is observed following breast cancer surgery. There is no cure for lymphedema; it can only be treated.
Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT)
CDT is the only effective treatment for lymphedema, and is available at Trinity Health. Started in the 1980s by Professor Michael Földi, MD, CDT consists of skin care, manual lymphatic drainage, compression therapy, and decongestive exercise.
- Skin care is important in people with lymphedema due to the high risk for infection from usually dry skin.
- Manual lymphatic drainage is a very light massage that increases the activity of the lymphatic system. This helps to decrease swelling.
- Compression therapy is used after manual lymphatic drainage to prevent more accumulation of fluid.
- Decongestive exercises are completed while the patient wears compression bandages or garments to increase the activity of the lymphatic system.
Who Can Treat Lymphedema
A certified lymphedema therapist is most qualified to treat lymphedema. Trinity Health has an experienced team of lymphedema therapists.
- Aimee Clemens PT, DPT, CLT, is a graduate of University of Mary and has been a physical therapist since 2010. She became certified from the Academy of Lymphatic Studies for complete decongestive therapy in 2014.
- Amber Pankratz PT, CLT, is a graduate of University of North Dakota and has also been certified by the Academy of Lymphatic Studies for complete decongestive therapy.
- Nicole Kutch OTR/L, CHT, CLT, has over 20 years of experience treating orthopedic hand and upper extremity patients. She obtained her certification in complete decongestive therapy at Academy of Lymphatic Studies in 2014.
- Kara Thomas COTA, CLT, has over 20 years of experience treating orthopedic hand and upper extremity patients. She obtained her certification in complete decongestive therapy at Norton School of Lymphedema in 2008.