Submitted by Temi Asein, Physical Therapist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT-LANA) with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital
It’s critical for cancer patients and survivors to maintain the things in life that are important to them— energy, mobility, and activity level. Oftentimes, people who survive cancer suffer from a serious side effect of treatment known as lymphedema, and they may not even be aware of it. Fortunately, cancer patients can find relief with lymphedema therapy that is now available at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital (RIC).
What is Lymphedema?
According to the National Cancer Institute, lymphedema occurs when the lymph system is damaged or blocked. The condition is commonly caused by the removal of or damage to the lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. It results from a blockage in the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup in soft body tissues leads to swelling.
Lymphedema usually affects an arm or leg, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Lymphedema can cause long-term physical, psychological, and social challenges for patients. However it can be managed with early diagnosis and continual care to the affected limb. It often occurs in breast cancer patients who had all or part of their breast removed and axillary (underarm) lymph nodes removed. Lymphedema in the legs may occur after surgery for uterine cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma, or melanoma. It may also occur with vulvar cancer or ovarian cancer. There’s no cure for lymphedema.
Lymphedema and Cancer Care Close to Home
The recovery process for cancer survivors is about achieving one’s greatest potential. RIC at Silver Cross Hospital provides treatment that goes beyond medical and surgical treatment options. To make treatment easier, RIC’s services are conveniently accessible to patients on the Silver Cross Hospital campus in New Lenox off of I-355 and Rt. 6.
We use evidenced-based treatment to address cancer patients’ physical and cognitive concerns caused by the disease and treatment. Our goal is always to help patients meet their challenges and achieve their highest ability. Our lymphedema therapy program includes an evaluation, therapeutic services and patient education for the following cancer related conditions:
- joint stiffness
- limited mobility
- neuropathy, swallowing difficulty
- speech difficulty
- scar management
- post-radiation skin
- tissue changes
- cognitive impairment
- bowel and bladder dysfunction.
Treatment consists of education, manual lymph drainage, compression bandaging and garment fitting, exercise, and long-term home management. Although care plans are tailored to each patient, here at RIC at Silver Cross, we follow the same protocols and pathways that are used at RIC in Chicago.
If you would like more information about treatment for lymphedema or to schedule an appointment, call (815) 300-7110. A physician’ order is required. And new patients can now schedule their first appointment online through SCHedule NOW.