Lymphedema is an incurable but treatable medical condition caused by injury, trauma or congenital defects in the lymphatic system. When the impairment becomes so great that the lymphatic fluid exceeds the lymphatic transport capacity, swelling results as an abnormal amount of protein-rich fluid collects in the tissues of the affected area. Two types of lymphedema exist: primary and secondary.
Primary lymphedema can be present at birth (congenital) or develop at the onset of puberty (praecox) or in adulthood (tarda). Secondary lymphedema can be caused by surgeries or radiation treatments and is a common side effect of cancer treatments that remove or damage lymph nodes or vessels.
Lymphedema is a chronic and potentially debilitating condition with no currently known cure.
Over time, untreated lymphedema results in infection, disfigurement, disability and even death. But lymphedema can be very effectively managed. The recognized standard of treatment for lymphedema is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). CDT comprises four interacting protocols applied in two phases (acute and ongoing): manual lymph drainage (MLD), compression therapy, lymph drainage exercises, and skin care. It is estimated that at least five million Americans suffer from lymphedema, and probably many more.
What Can I Expect?
After your doctor refers you for Lymphedema therapy you will be scheduled for an initial evaluation with our certified practitioner. During that first visit she will take a detailed history, review your particular needs, perform appropriate tests and measures and then make recommendations. She will review the treatment plan in detail before any specific treatments are begun assuring that you understand and are comfortable with the program.
Julia Reed, MS, DPT, CLT
Julia has been a therapist for 6 years and has been at Bryan for 3.5 years. She completed her Bachelors in Exercise Science at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, her Masters in athletic training at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from University of Kansas Medical Center. She is currently a license Physical therapist as well as a certified Athletic Trainer. She has worked in both outpatient orthopedic and acute care settings and has been the therapist assigned to the acute ortho/trauma unit here at Bryan West for the past 3 years. She is a certified through the Academy of Lymphatic Studies as a Lymphedema therapist and provides services to her clients at our outpatient clinic at Bryan West.
When she is not working she is busy raising her young daughter and spending time with her husband who farms.