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    Rome Memorial Hospital's lymphedema therapists offer patients relief from painful swelling

     Rome Memorial Hospital has two certified therapists to provide comprehensive evaluation, treatment, and management of lymphedema.  

     Occupational therapist, Kelly Edick, OTR/CLT, and physical therapist, Hayley Coon, PT/CLT, have received specialized certification in this therapy, which is used to reduce swelling and promote skin care for patients suffering from lymphedema. They received their formal training and certification from The Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy in Freehold, N.J., the premier institution for professionals to become certified lymphedema therapists.  

    Lymphedema is caused by damage in the lymphatic system, an important part of the immune and circulatory systems. The damage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and as the fluid builds up it causes swelling that generally occurs in one arm or one leg, but can affect more than one limb or body part.  Lymphedema can be the result of venous insuffency due to age, illness or injury, cancer, cancer treatment, or surgical procedures. 

    Katherine “Kay” DeLorenzo, of Rome, has dealt with the swelling of lymphadema in both of her legs for years.  After reading an article about the benefits of lymphedema therapy in the newspaper, she was surprised to learn that the therapy was available just a few blocks from her home at Rome Memorial Hospital. 

    “I don’t think people realize all the services that are available to them right here at Rome Memorial Hospital,” Kay said.  “When the pain in my legs started to keep me from the active lifestyle I enjoy, I decided it was time for me to look into lymphedema therapy and I’m so glad I did.” 

    Kay said that before lymphedema therapy, her legs looked like “tree trunks.”  The swelling had been coming and going for quite a few years, but eventually her legs remained swollen all the time and made it very difficult for her to stand or walk. 

    “I saw my doctor and got a referral for lymphedema therapy and was able to get an appointment for an evaluation right away,” Kay said.  “As soon as I started therapy, I began to see the change in my legs.  Kelly and Hayley were both wonderful and the therapy is not at all painful.” 

     The lymphedema therapy program at Rome Memorial Hospital consists of four components designed to reduce swelling, maintain the reduction and improve quality of life for lymphedema patients.  The program includes: 

    Skin Care:  Skin inspection, cleansing and rehydration to maintain and improve the skin’s integrity. 

    Manual Lymph Draining:  A massage technique used to improve lymph flow and soften fibrotic tissues. 

    Compression Bandages/Garments:  A series of short stretch bandages are applied to prevent fluid from returning following massage, then patients are fitted for custom made compression garments to provide support following completion of the program. 

    Therapeutic Exercise:  Improves flexibility, strength, and facilitates return of lymph fluids to system. 

    Lymphedema therapy typically lasts 3-6 weeks, 5 days a week for 60/90 minute sessions.    

     As with any condition, early intervention is of utmost importance in achieving the best possible outcomes and Kay said she would tell anyone suffering from any swelling to get in and have an evaluation as early as possible. 

    “Sometimes just the use of compression garments is all that is needed,” Edick explained, but she added that not all compression products are equal and some that may be advertised as “medical grade” actually are not of that quality.  “The garments we order are custom made for each individual and are constructed to exact physical specifications.  There are no regulations for the garments that can be purchased on-line or in stores, and some may even do patients more harm than good.” 

    The compression garments become the patients “second skin” and they wear them 12-14 hours a day during the day to prevent the swelling from returning and maintain the results of therapy. 

    Coon recently completed her lymphedema therapy training and has been treating patients for several months.  She said that being able to make such a huge improvement in her patients’ quality of life has been very rewarding.  “Many of our patients have been suffering with swollen limbs for years and when they see the difference lymphedema therapy can make they are so happy and appreciative,” Coon said.  

    “I am fiercely independent,” the 85-year-old Kay said.  “I’m from the generation that walked everywhere and worked hard at taking care of the home and family.  I still prepare three meals a day for my family and I don’t like having to stop doing things because of my physical limitations.  That’s why lymphedema therapy has been so wonderful for me.  I can stand and sit without pain.  I’m happy.” 

     A physician’s prescription is required to make an appointment for Rome Memorial Hospital’s lymphedema therapy program.   Lymphedema therapy is covered by most major medical insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid.  Extended payment plans are available to assist patients with their co-payments.  

    For more information, contact the Therapy Department at Rome Memorial Hospital at 315.338.7154. 


    DeLorenzo testimonial 
    CERTIFIED LYMPHEDEMA THERAPISTS - Rome Memorial Hospital physical therapist,
    Hayley Coon, PT/CLT, left, and occupational therapist Kelly Edick, OTR/CLT, right,
    are certified in lymphedema therapy, which is used to reduce swelling and promote skin
    care for patients suffering from lymphedema.  The therapists provide comprehensive
    evaluation, treatment, and management of lymphedema for patients like Katherine
    “Kay” DeLorenzo of Rome.  Kay says her legs were like “tree trunks” prior to receiving
    lymphedema therapy at Rome Memorial Hospital, but now the painful swelling is greatly
    reduced and she is able to once again enjoy a more active lifestyle.