A certified lymphedema therapist, Stacy Wahl, now provides lymphedema services four days a week in Newport.
Lymphedema is an accumulation of high-protein fluids in body tissues that can cause uncomfortable swelling of arms or legs. It can occur any time the lymph system is compromised from surgery, cancer treatment or trauma. Because treatment often requires a minimum of twice weekly visits with a therapist, offering this service locally saves patients from traveling to the valley for treatment.
“Our goal is to provide rehabilitation services that are most needed in our community,” said Jennifer Miller, director of Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation Specialists – Newport. “When our department moved into the SamFit building last April, we recruited a specialist from the valley to provide treatment one day a week. However, that was not enough. With Stacy here, we are now able to provide more timely treatment for more patients on the coast.”
Wahl has been an occupational therapist since 2012, and she recently received her certification in lymphedema treatment. The course of treatment she provides differs for each individual but can include manual lymph drainage or a type of massage to redirect fluids out of the body, as well as compression or bandaging of the limbs, exercise and basic skin and nail care to prevent infection.
“My goal is to discover what is meaningful for the patient, and then we work together to allow them to return to that activity. For instance, if the person wants to get back to work, we use that purpose to inspire us forward,” Wahl said.
She focuses on educating patients, teaching them how to do self-massage and bandaging.
“I want an individual to feel confident in managing their treatment independently,” she added.
Wahl says she has a friend with lymphedema and knows how the significant swelling can cause weakness, heaviness and discomfort, as well as psychological impacts.
Lacking access to treatment should not also be a burden, Wahl noted.
“My friend survived cancer but then had to be treated for lymphedema,” Wahl said. “It was a hardship for her to travel a great distance to receive treatment, so I’m glad that we can offer this therapy on the central coast more frequently.”
Anyone who notices a chronic swelling in their limbs is encourage to visit their doctor to see if they might be a candidate for lymphedema therapy. While lymphedema services are offered four days a week, Wahl’s schedule varies. For more information, call 541-574-1823.