There is a new service that is being provided for the community at CHI Mercy Health Hospital. It is Lymphedema and Wound Care therapy.
Jessie Olson, who is an Occupational Therapist at CHI, has become certified in lymhedema and wound care. If you have had lymph nodes removed for any reason, something may occur in your body. And Olson would be the person that can help you. “ Lymhedema Therapy is when you have a life changing event like cancer and they have to get lymph nodes removed, or maybe they have an injury from a sport, you can get to where you have extra fluid and swelling, “ Olson explains. “ What can happen with our lymphatic system is it sometimes goes a little far. So that swelling maybe doesn’t go away or it gets worse and you get this lymphatic fluid that is stuck and that’s where then can come to me.”
Olson recently received training in a specialized massage called Lymphatic Drainage. “The massage helps clear the fluid so it helps re-direct it to the lymphatics in your body that are still working.” Olson said. “So we are getting it out of that congestion zone where its not doing what it is supposed to do and getting it to go back to your kidneys.” In layman’s terms, the lymph nodes filter a watery fluid that circulates with the lymphatic vessels to identify and fight infection.
The massage will not completely solve the problem, also part of this therapy is compression. “You want to clear that fluid out with that specialized massage,” Olson said. ‘But then you need the compression to keep it from coming back.”
She continues, “You hear about compression socks and sleeves. Olson says using those for this purpose is patient specific. “It depends on how long does it take for that fluid to come back,” Olson adds. “For some people, it might be a couple of hours and that fluid is right back. So that’s someone who might want to wear that compression more long term. We have patients who maybe they only have the fluid re-accumulate after a day or two and so maybe that’s someone that only has to wear that compression at night time.”
When Olson worked in acute care in a bigger hospital, patients with lymphadema asked her if she was a lymphadema therapist since she is an OT (Occupational Therapist). And Olson would answer no, that sounds very specialized. When arrived at CHI, they mentioned they would really like someone who is lymphadema certified. So Olson looked into and and began the training. She took a class that was 135 hours of training with virtual meetings outside of work and learn how to wrap volunteer patients and do massage on volunteer patients and test out. “It was very intensive training,” Olson remembers. “ You would have to pass exams, they would have you demonstrate it back and you would have to point cameras so I had to be a little techie. With the class to - tt was probably one of the most intense classes I’ve taken.”
This therapy a person cannot just walk in and ask if they can have the therapy. Olson says you need a physician to refer you to her. She is the only OT and Lymphadema Therapist at CHI Mercy in Valley City.
If you notice that you have had swelling for a while and it won’t go away, Olson says to talk to your primary care physician and see if you can get a referral to her. She can evaluate your situation see what she can do to help.
For more information about Lymphdema therapy you can contact Jessie Olson at CHI Mercy Health Hospital in Valley City.
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