April 6, 2018
NORTON, Kan. – April is Occupational Therapy Month, and Norton County Hospital is recognizing its occupational therapist on staff, Margi Nielsen. According to The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent – or live better with – an injury, illness or disability.
Nielsen, who is part of NCH’s rehabilitation team that also includes in-house physical therapists and physical therapy assistants, has worked in Norton since 2016. In March 2018, Nielsen completed training to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT). This means NCH will now offer lymphedema therapy for patients.
The Mayo Clinic defines lymphedema as swelling, generally in the arms or legs, which is commonly caused by the removal of or damage to lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment, surgery or other injury. Lymphedema results from a blockage in the lymphatic system, part of the immune system, which prevents lymph fluid from draining well that can lead to swelling.
Lymphedema can develop within weeks or even years after the symptoms first appear. Treatment includes manual lymph drainage by gently massaging the swollen areas to redirect the fluid. Additionally, compression wraps can help keep the fluid out of the area and reduce the amount of stagnant fluid that builds up.
Prior to Nielsen becoming a CLT, patients with lymphedema would have to travel outside of Norton County to receive treatment. Providing this service is another way NCH can help patients by keeping their health care services close to home.
Lymphedema is often a life-long condition, so having an expert in Norton can be helpful to many people. In addition to providing the treatment herself, Nielsen will also work with patients to develop a home exercise program to help them carry on treatments themselves.
“I am excited to be able to offer this unique service in this community,” Nielsen said. “Complete decongestive therapy – manual, bandaging and home exercise program – is a very effective way to evacuate chronic fluid accumulation."
Individuals will need a prescription for therapy for this service through occupational therapy. If you have questions, contact the hospital’s Rehabilitation department at 785-874-2222.