LCH Physical Therapist Achieves Special Certification

LCH Physical Therapist Achieves Special Certification

November 2011

Sharon Vajgrt, physical therapist at the Lindsborg Community Hospital, completed specialized training in Omaha, NE in early November to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. "Certification in Lymphedema Management of the Upper and Lower Extremities" required 32 hours of training to achieve certification.

Lymphedema is an abnormal buildup and change in composition of fluid that causes swelling, most often in the arms or legs. The condition develops when lymph vessels or lymph nodes are impaired, damaged, or surgically removed. The lymph system is a network of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels that produce and transport lymph from tissues to the bloodstream.

Lymphedema can be inherited or caused by injury to the lymphatic vessels. Secondary lymphedema is most frequently seen after the lymph node dissection, surgery and/or radiation therapy, in which damage to the lymphatic system is caused during the treatment of cancer, most notably breast cancer. This condition may not develop until months-- or even years-- after therapy has concluded.

Accidents or certain diseases may also result in lymphedema if the lymphatic system has been impaired, preventing proper function. Lymphedema can also be associated with accidents or certain diseases that may inhibit the lymphatic system from functioning properly. Some signs and symptoms of lymphedema include:

  • Swelling of part of your arm or entire arm or leg, including fingers and toes
  • Swelling that is red, firm and hard-not spongy
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness in your arm or leg
  • Recurring infections in the affected limb

While there is not a cure for lymphedema, treatment to control it can be done by a certified therapist. The key to proper treatment is early intervention and instruction in self-management. If left untreated, increased limb size, channel blockage, and high protein levels collecting in tissue fluid can lead to serious infection and chronic inflammatory conditions. In addition to urgent medical issues, this may result in pain, weakness, and loss of function. Treatment consists of manual lymphatic drainage massage, light exercise and compression bandaging.

Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for lymphedema therapy with certified therapist, Sharon Vajgrt.

Sharon can be reached at 785-227-3308.