Lymphedema therapists help to mitigate the effects of lymphedema in patients, as there is currently no known cure for the condition. This condition develops when a build-up of lymph fluid occurs in superficial tissues as a result of damages to the lymphatic system, or occasionally as a result of breast cancer treatment.
These therapists use forms of physical therapy to help patients exercise, as fluid-buildup can inhibit them from performing basic everyday tasks. They also recognize that massages may help to increase the flow of lymph fluid by allowing it to drain from an arm or leg. Most lymphedema therapists work indoors in a clinic, though some may make house calls for patients who cannot travel. In more serious cases, patients may require surgery or need to see an oncologist if a neoplasm has developed, and if any diseases seem to develop as a result of the lymphedema, a disease specialist may need to be contacted.
A degree as a certified doctor/physical therapist and 500 hours in massage therapy courses are generally required for this position, including courses in massage therapy, bandaging techniques, hygiene, edema measuring techniques, and others. After receiving certification, a lymphedema therapist should expect to have free listing as a "preferred" therapist on various consultation websites, but they may seek to offer their services locally or in other locations. They are expected to help their patients throughout the day and as the patient develops fluid which must be drained, and they are also expected to care for patients' hygiene.
Lymphedema Therapist Tasks
Massage soft tissues to drain the lymph's.
Perform therapy to aid in reduction in swelling caused by diagnosis, such as fibrosis, lymphatic issues, or turner syndrome.
Record patient response to treatment and progress.
Instruct patients how to do at home exercise and self-massage.
Wrap and educate patients on compression wrapping techniques.