Pink Week: New lymphedema treatment now available at Fitzgibbon Hospital thanks to Pink Week

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Fitzgibbon Hospital Rehab Center has begun a new program involving lymphedema treatment, according to a news release from the hospital.

The program has been several months in the making and, with new therapists, is beginning to serve the community.

According to Andy Snyder, physical therapist and rehab manager, treatment of lymphedema goes hand-in-hand with the cancer treatments provided by the Community Cancer Center, especially treatments related to breast cancer.

"When I came to Fitzgibbon in December of 2011, I wanted to identify some of the needs of the community," Snyder said. "I had worked with lymphedema therapists before and knew Fitzgibbon had a Cancer Center. I thought that an expansion of lymphedema treatment in the Rehab Department would enhance the work done by the cancer center and become an added benefit the community."

Snyder also talked about how the process of providing specialized training in lymphedema treatment for rehab personnel.

"One of the therapists, Tammy Curry, mentioned a desire to become certified in lymphedema treatment. This got me interested in finding out more about specific training," he said. "We knew there would be an added expense, so we decided to look for avenues of funding."

The idea for the program really took off when Curry mentioned the need for the program presented it to the Fund Development Council.

The council decided that the program would be beneficial to the community and committed support for the training through funds available from 2011 Pink Week, Football in Pink and related Breast Cancer Awareness Month events.

"The Fund Development Council made it possible for Tammy to receive the training that she would need to implement the program," Snyder said.

Mary Keller, Fund Development Coordinator for Fitzgibbon Hospital, said the Fund Development Council was pleased to participate in providing this much needed service for patients in the area.

"This is another example of ways Fitzgibbon Hospital works to provide a wide array of health care services to the communities we serve," Keller said.

Curry serves as the manager of the lymphedema program, which is designed to help educate physicians and the public at large about the benefits of lymphedema treatment and offer a support group for patients.

The hospital hopes to expand the program in the future with more certified therapists.

Curry said some of the treatments used in the program include the massage portion, short-stretch bandaging, gentle exercises which depend on where the lymphedema is located and education on skin care. The treatments usually take about an hour.

She also hopes to start using the hospital's aquatic therapy pool to help patients feel more comfortable and less fatigued.

"Because there has really been no treatment for lymphedema, we hope this effort will give our patients back their quality of life through maintenance programming," Curry said. "It is tough enough to battle cancer. Then have you have lymphedema come in and it can make you immobile and take away your life from you."

Curry also says that the benefits to this will be the close proximity for patients and easier for schedules.

"As a breast cancer survivor, I feel honored to be able to do this treatment to help others in their time of need," Curry said.

Snyder said he was glad to be part of brining this service to patients in the area.

"I am happy that Fitzgibbon Hospital is able to take care of this big need in our community."

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