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St. Mary Medical Center Expands Rehabilitation Therapies in the Community
Physical Therapy Services and Lymphedema Therapy available at Cornerstone Suites in Langhorne

LANGHORNE, PA, October 25, 2011 - St. Mary Medical Center announces the expansion of physical therapy services to offsite locations in the community. As the population of our region ages, the need for physical therapy services continues to increase. To better meet the needs of the community in providing access to therapies that help individuals maintain or regain their ability to perform activities of daily life, St. Mary is opening a new 2,500 square-foot fully equipped Physical Therapy facility in the Cornerstone Executive Suites (near Oxford Valley Mall) in Langhorne, PA, and expanding services in its adjacent Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center to include lymphedema therapy for head and neck, and lower extremities.

St. Mary Physical Therapy at Cornerstone

“Physical Therapy can make a real difference in the quality of life for patients who find that an injury or surgery is limiting their ability to function,” says Kimberly Sudac, Director of Therapies at St. Mary. “We are excited that access to the quality program we offer now is more conveniently available to residents in our community.”

Physical Therapy services at Cornerstone will focus on orthopedic and muscular rehabilitation for injury or troublesome conditions of the hip, knee, shoulder and back.

Individuals who have undergone joint replacement, experienced a musculoskeletal injury or bone trauma, or have a degenerative disease, such as arthritis or osteoporosis, as well as individuals with sprains, strains, or tendonitis can benefit from a comprehensive approach to care. The experienced certified therapists at St. Mary integrate the evidence-based treatment, leading-edge technologies and adaptive techniques to promote recovery. Physical therapists assist in the recovery process by helping patients regain abilities to perform activities of daily life. Appropriate goals and treatment plans are individualized for each patient and designed to improve a patient’s range of motion, muscle strength, endurance, functional mobility, muscle tone and reflexes, and gait disturbances. Treatment may include patient education, stretching and strengthening activities, endurance and balance training, use of assistive devices, appropriate bracing for an involved limb, moist heat, ultrasound, electric stimulation, cyrotherapy, and manual techniques.

Amputation Therapy Program

St. Mary Physical Therapy at Cornerstone will introduce a new Amputation Therapy Program designed to help a patient re-learn skills and improve mobility to attain the highest level of functional independence following the amputation of a limb. Amputations often may be the result of peripheral artery disease (PAD), diabetes, infection, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), a trauma or serious injury, or cancer in bone or muscles. The rehabilitation program begins with a comprehensive evaluation and development of an individualized care plan. The plan focuses on developing the skills a patient post-amputation needs to improve mobility and resume activities of daily life. Patients may receive training in the use of a prosthesis, an artificial limb used to improve overall function after an amputation. Patients post-amputation also are offered guidance in lifestyle changes, pain management and skin care to avoid complications.

“There is a real advantage to our location next to the St. Mary Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center as many of our older patients also struggle with difficult to heal wounds and blood circulation problems,” says Cindy Malinowski, Outpatient Orthopedic Lead. “Our therapists work closely with physicians and other medical providers to maintain and improve the overall health of our patients.”

Lymphedema Therapy at Cornerstone

In addition to the Lymphedema Therapy Program available on the St. Mary main campus, a Lymphedema Therapy Program will be offered beginning in October at the St. Mary Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center in the Cornerstone Executive Suites.

The Lymphedema Therapy Program at Cornerstone will focus on treating swelling of the lower extremities as a result of certain medical conditions, including chronic venous insufficiency, as well as swelling of the head and neck, typically occurring as a result of cancer treatment.

Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling of a body part caused by an excessive buildup of fluid. Lymphedema most often occurs after a lymph node dissection, surgery, and\or radiation, all of which can damage the lymphatic system during the treatment of cancer. Other causes include venous insufficiency, trauma, infection, and obesity. Symptoms of lymphedema include swelling of a body part, heaviness and limitation of movement, recurrent infections, skin thickening or hardening, and pain or discomfort.

Certified Lymphedema Therapists provide treatment for lymphedema called Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). CDT includes manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, therapeutic exercise, skin care, compression garment fitting and personalized education in self-care. MLD is a gentle, hands-on massage that moves lymphatic fluid from the affected area to the healthy parts of the lymphatic system. After MLD, the affected area is wrapped with layers of compression bandages to prevent reaccumulation of the lymphatic fluid.

In addition, a medically supervised exercise program is designed to strengthen muscles and improve circulation and function of the lymphatic system. After the affected body part is decongested, the patient is fitted for a medical compression garment which would be worn daily to help maintain results achieved during therapy. Lymphedema therapists also teach patient how to maintain progress through a home maintenance program and educate them on proper skin to prevent infections.

Lymphedema of Head and Neck

Treatment of head and neck cancer can potentially cause lymphedema and debilitating side effects that affect a person’s quality of life. The neck is the most common site of lymphedema in patients with head and neck cancer, but lymphedema can also occur below the chin, in the face, and sometimes inside the mouth. Head and neck lymphedema can affect vision, eating, speaking, and in some patients, breathing. Complete decongestive therapy leads to clinical improvement in the majority of patients with head and neck lymphedema.

Chronic venous insufficiency

In addition to the many diagnoses that Certified Lymphedema Therapists are able to treat, CDT is also effective in treating patients with Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). CVI is a condition of poor blood return from the lower extremities (feet, and legs) to the heart. Risk factors include age, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, heart failure, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, and occupations that require long-term standing.

CVI diminishes the capacity of the venous system. This increases the workload for the lymphatic system in the affected area. To compensate for this excess fluid in the tissues, the lymphatic system must transport larger volumes of fluid load in the affected tissues of the legs. Over time, the lymphatic system fails to effectively move fluid out of the affected area, and lymphedema develops. This is a serious circulatory disorder that usually becomes worse over time and can result in disability. Symptoms are chronic foot or leg swelling, non-healing leg ulcers, varicose veins, pain or pressure, itching, ache, or heaviness in the affected limb. The skin color of the leg or foot also may become reddish or brown due to the excessive accumulation of red blood cells.

Decongestive therapy can treat CVI as with other diagnoses that cause lower extremity lymphedema. Through MLD, compression bandaging, exercise and proper skin care, the incidence of infections and wounds can be significantly reduced along with the decrease of fluid in the affected body part. Chronic leg ulcers are a serious complication of CVI. Because of insufficient blood flow, the wounds are difficult to treat and may become serious infections. These infections may become gangrenous and are potentially life threatening, and sometimes can lead to amputations.

Antibiotic therapy, diuretic medications and, in some cases, vascular surgery also may be used to treat CVI. Patients with CVI also can benefit from treatment at the St. Mary Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Oxygen Center located at the site in which the Lymphedema Program is held.

“Having these therapies conveniently available is a tremendous benefit to our patients with hard-to-heal wounds,” says Dr. David Brotman, Medical Director of the St. Mary Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center. “It strengthens the level of comprehensive care we can offer to meet the challenging needs of their often complex medical conditions.”