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What is lymphedema therapy?
Lymphedema therapy combines manual lymph drainage (MLD) and complete decongestive therapy (CDT) to decrease swollen body parts associated with lymphedema and other related conditions. Lymphedema therapy is a four step non-invasive, painless, effective therapy, including: MLD, CDT, customized exercise program, and skin care. MLD is gentle manual treatment to improve lymph vessel activity and re-route fluid to the venous system. CDT utilizes short stretch bandages and/or compression garments to maintain the results of the reduction obtained during MLD and to prevent fluid re-accumulation. Exercises provided by the therapist will aid in the MLD effects and enhance long-term outcomes via beneficial activities. Skin care is vital to prevent infection, promote healing, and establish an effective, life-long routine.
What do lymphedema therapists do?
Lymphedema therapists are physical therapists or occupational therapists who have been certified to provide lymphedema therapy through MLD and CDT. They are trained in utilizing the four step process described above in order to address concerns with lymphedema and other related conditions.
Why are people referred to lymphedema therapy?
People are referred to lymphedema therapy in order to decrease lymphedema and other related conditions, so that the patient is able to return to daily activities with less fatigue due to heavy limbs and less risk of skin breakdown and infections. The lymphedema therapist will work with patients to develop an individualized plan of care to maximize function and independence in daily activities through reduction of lymphedema symptoms.
What do I need to bring with me to my first appointment?
Please bring your prescription for therapy from your doctor, your insurance card, a list of your medications, and any paperwork you were given to complete prior to the evaluation.
What happens during my first visit?
You will be asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment with your therapist to complete paperwork and review your insurance benefits. You will be asked to complete a symptoms questionnaire. A therapist will complete their evaluation, examining- posture, range of motion, strength, skin integrity, limb volume measurements, status of self-care activities, and completing special tests. Your therapist will discuss with you your medical history, current problems, pain intensity and what aggravates/eases the pain, how your daily activities are impacted, your goals from therapy and medications, tests, and procedures related to your health. Upon gathering all needed information, your therapist will inform and educate you about treatment options and the recommended course of care.
What else can I expect as a patient?
Big Stone Therapies’ professional staff takes pride in our Patients First approach to rehabilitation. Exactly what does that mean?
How should I dress for Therapy?
You should wear loose fitting clothing so you can expose the area that will be evaluated and treated. Be prepared to put on a gown for portions of the evaluation or treatment, as the therapists needs to be able to evaluate the integrity of your skin and the MLD portion of the treatment is applied directly onto the skin. Patients are seen in private rooms, and gowns and blankets for draping are provided to ensure patient comfort and respect for privacy.
How long will each treatment last?
Expect your first visit to last 90 minutes. Follow up treatment sessions are typically 75-90 minutes.
How many visits will I need?
This is highly variable among each individual, depending upon your diagnosis, the severity of your impairments, your past medical history, etc. During the first visit, your therapist will discuss with you how many treatment visits they anticipated you will need.
Who pays for my therapy?
In most cases, health insurance will cover your treatment. Prior to your first visit, we will verify your insurance coverage and we encourage you to do the same as well. At your first visit, you will be given the verification of benefits form that includes information, such as the co-pay amount, deductible, number of approved visits, etc.
Will the therapist communicate with my health care provider?
Big Stone Therapies understands the importance of communication among members of your health care team (you, your therapist, your doctor). As a result, following your initial evaluation, your therapist will send your doctor a detailed report with the findings of your evaluation, the assessment of your condition, a detailed description of the treatment plan, and a complete list of the goals to be achieved in therapy.
Before each appointment you have with your Doctor, your therapist will complete a written progress report for your Doctor to ensure they have the most up to date information concerning your care. Additionally, your therapist will not hesitate to contact your Doctor by phone if any specific questions or concerns arise. At the end of your treatment, a final report will be sent with information regarding your status at the time of discharge from therapy.
What type of follow-up is offered?
At Big Stone Therapies, your therapist will give you a home program that is appropriate for you upon discharge of therapy. You will be given detailed instructions of how to complete your at home program, allowing you to continue the progress you make while in therapy and avoid further exacerbation of lymphedema.
We are your partners in recovery, so even after your discharge, if you ever have any questions or concerns, call your nearest clinic and we will be more than happy to assist you in any way possible.