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Jones Memorial now offers treatment for lymphedema


Jessica Hammers, OT, will provide multiple therapies at JMH

A Lymphedema treatment program is now available at the Jones Memorial Hospital Rehab Department, making it the only lymphedema treatment program in the area.

”There is no cure for lymphedema and management is the key to avoiding complications,” said Catherine Zacher, PT,DPT, Director of Rehab Services at Jones Memorial. ”Certification by the Academy of Lymphatic Studies requires 45 hours of online pre-course work followed by a 9-day, 135 hour, in-person courses, which are held throughout the country. The rigorous testing involves a written exam, hands-on assessment, and treatment of a live patient via a case study. Simply put, this is not an easy certification to earn.”

Lymphadema is caused by a breakdown in the body’s lymphatic system. The network of vessels that carries protein-rich fluid throughout the body is part of the immune system. The fluid is pushed through the vessels by muscle contractions and is drained through the  lymph nodes. If the lymph nodes are damaged, the fluid cannot drain so it collects in the tissue of the arms or legs, in the chest wall, abdomen, neck, and genitals, causing painful swelling. The most common causes of lymphedema are traumas to the lymphatic system including cancers that block the lymph nodes, radiation treatments for cancers, and surgeries involving the lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system.

”Managing lymphedema focuses on reducing the swelling and preventing complications,” explained Jessica Hammers, OT, the Lymphedema Therapist at Jones Memorial. ”Left untreated, the trapped fluid provides a fertile ground for germs and the smallest injury to the arm or leg can be an entry point for infections.” Lymphedema complications can include cellulitis, sepsis, fungal infections,  leakage through the skin, and skin changes.

Ms. Hammers is certified in Manual Lymph Drainage and Complete Decongestive Therapy. She decided to go for the training and certification for lymphedema treatment to help people around this area who have been diagnosed with this condition. ”There are not many providers locally who can give this type of treatment so to be able to provide this service to the community is really rewarding,” she said.

If you have been diagnosed with Lymphedema, talk to you provider about entering the treatment program at Jones Memorial. For more information, please call (585) 596-4011.

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