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Lymphedema Program Occupational Therapy (OT)

Welcome to the UR Medicine Occupational Therapy (OT) lymphedema program. Please be aware this program is OT only, not a lymphedema clinic, and does not include other professionals. We have developed this program to create a successful management program for lymphedema. It is very important to us that we help you succeed with your treatment. This success will depend on your ability to attend appointments and follow specific instructions at home. If at any time, you feel you cannot attend at the level your OT requests or complete treatment steps, please let them know.

What is Lymphedema?

Per the National Lymphedema Network: Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of lymphatic fluid in the tissues just beneath the skin. Lymphedema develops when a body region, where lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes are missing or impaired, becomes overloaded with lymphatic fluid. Typically, this will be seen in the arm or leg but we also see it in other body areas such as the head and neck, chest, and trunk.

While other forms of edema may be present and/or treated in the same manner, they may not be considered lymphedema. This does not mean you are unable to come here for management of your swelling.

Treatment of Lymphedema

Lymphedema cannot be cured, only managed. Management is a 4-part system.

  1. Skin Care
  2. Exercise
  3. Manual Lymphatic drainage (clinic and home based): This is a hands-on technique to help with the flow of the fluid. Lymphatic massage will not be complete without the other 3 parts. If this is the goal, a massage therapist who specializes in lymphedema should be contacted.
  4. Compression
    1. Phase 1 or Reduction: The goal of this phase is to get you smaller. Short-stretch bandage wrapping (not an ace wrap) and Velcro wraps are options at this stage. Phase 1 lasts as long as the size of the area is going down and you are able to tolerate the wrapping.
    2. Phase 2 or Containment: The goal of this phase is to keep you at your current size. A compression sleeve/stocking (lasts 6-7 months) is used or a Velcro wrap may be continued. A glove or gauntlet is often used with a sleeve.

Many people ask about compression pumps. While these are an important addition to the basic program, they are not a replacement. This can be discussed in further detail at your appointment. 

While compression garments will be discussed, they are not supplied at a visit. 

To attend this program you will need a referral from a Doctor, Nurse Practitioner or Physicians Assistant. 

If you have any questions on the program or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (585) 341-9200. Please understand we cannot answer questions about your particular case or possible treatment plan, until you have been seen.