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Lymphedema therapist provides individualized care plans

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Angela Howard, a physical therapist with Ephraim McDowell Rehabilitation, has been a certified lymphedema therapist for 22 years. Originally from Manchester, Kentucky, Howard received her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Kentucky.

Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymph fluid, mostly in the extremities, but can also be in the face, neck, trunk, and genitals,” Howard said. “It can be classified as primary lymphedema, which is either present at birth or develops later in life with no known cause, or as secondary lymphedema which is more common and develops as a result of surgery and/or radiation treatments for cancer.” 

Howard also works with patients with other types of edema such as venous insufficiency, congestive heart failure, open wounds, and post surgical patients.   

Howard said trauma to the extremity, parasitic infection, and tourniquet applications can also be causes of lymphedema. Her goal in therapy is to educate the patient on how to manage their lymphedema. This includes getting necessary supplies for home care, educating both the patient and their families on how to bandage, and provide training for the proper techniques for putting on and taking off compression stockings for legs or arm sleeves for arms.

Patients are referred to Howard through their physicians, physician assistants, or nurse practitioner. 

“Early diagnosis and treatment are preferred for best results,” Howard said. “Treatment for lymphedema is developed depending on what the patient needs.” 

As such, an individualized care plan is developed with the patient and a home program is recommended.

For more information ask your primary care provider for a referral to Angela Howard at Ephraim McDowell Rehabilitation. 

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