Community Hospital

Lymphedema Treatment

What Is Lymphedema?

A chronic condition, lymphedema is the abnormal accumulation of water and proteins in the superficial tissues.  Stages are defined by clinical findings.

You may see swelling ranging from minimal to severe:

  • Of the extremity, either in whole or in part
  • In the trunk or the face
  • That “pits” or indents when pressure is applied
  • That is hard and cannot be indented

You may notice skin texture or color changes.  Hair loss may occur in the swollen area.

Lymphedema Treatment

New patients are examined by a certified lymphedema therapist.  The standard treatment for managing lymphedema is complete decongestive therapy, which includes skin care, manual lymphatic drainage, compression, and therapeutic exercise. The patient is instructed in home management techniques which may include exercise, simple self lymph drainage, and application of compression bandages.  A one-time Education session is available for persons who do not have swelling but are at risk for lymphedema.

Our Lymphedema Therapists

At Community Hospital, the outpatient occupational and physical therapists are experienced clinicians.  They are certified lymphedema therapists (CLT) committed to continuing education to maintain expertise in lymphedema management.

Meet the Lymphedema Staff

Mary Pawlicki, PT, CLT-LANA
Outpatient Physical Therapy Supervisor 
Mary received her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from University of Illinois at Chicago in 1996. She is a Certified Lymphedema therapist since 2002 and LANA certified since 2008.         

Sue DeGroate OTR, CLT, CKPT
Occupational Therapy Supervisor  
Sue received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from University of Illinois at Chicago in 1981. She is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist and Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner. Sue has been working at Community Hospital since 2000.    

Karen Bledsoe OTR, CLT 
Clinical Specialist 
Karen received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Indiana University in 1990. She is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

The Lymphedema Clinic is located in the Outpatient Therapy Services Department at Community Hospital on the ground floor of the West Pavilion. A physician’s prescription is required to receive services. To schedule an appointment call 219-836-4527. Karen has been working at Community Hospital since 2001.     

Causes of Lymphedema

Common causes of lymphedema include surgery, injury, radiation, and chronic overload of the venous system.  Sometimes there is no known cause; a person may be born with a deficient lymphatic system.

Lymphedema Risk Reduction

  • Avoiding infection, inflammation, and excessive blood flow in the affected area helps to minimize lymphedema
  • Moisturize the skin daily
  • Wear gardening gloves
  • Avoid cuts and insect bites
  • Avoid muscle strain
  • Exercise moderately
  • Avoid burns, including sunburn
  • Take warm, not hot baths
  • Avoid hot tubs, saunas
  • Carry purse on unaffected shoulder
  • Avoid tight clothing or jewelry
  • Promote general circulation when flying

A physician prescription is required for Lymphedema Therapy.  To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call us at 219-836-4527.

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