Patients Suffering from Lymphedema after Cancer Find Relief at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross

It’s critical for cancer patients and survivors to maintain the things in life that are important to them— energy, mobility, and activity level. Oftentimes, people who survive cancer suffer from a serious side effect of treatment known as lymphedema, and they may not even be aware of it. Fortunately, cancer patients can find relief with lymphedema therapy that is now available at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross.

What is Lymphedema?

According to the National Cancer Institute, lymphedema occurs when the lymph system is damaged or blocked. The condition is commonly caused by the removal of or damage to the lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. It results from a blockage in the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup in soft body tissues leads to swelling.

“Lymphedema usually affects an arm or leg, but it can also affect other parts of the body,” said Temi Asein, Physical Therapist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT-LANA) with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross. “Lymphedema can cause long-term physical, psychological, and social challenges for patients. However it can be managed with early diagnosis and continual care to the affected limb.”

Lymphedema often occurs in breast cancer patients who had all or part of their breast removed and axillary (underarm) lymph nodes removed. Lymphedema in the legs may occur after surgery for uterine cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma, or melanoma. It may also occur with vulvar cancer or ovarian cancer. There's no cure for lymphedema.

Lymphedema and Cancer Care Close to Home

The recovery process for cancer survivors is about achieving one’s greatest potential. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross provides treatment that goes beyond medical and surgical treatment options. To make treatment easier, our services are conveniently accessible to patients on the Silver Cross Hospital campus in New Lenox off of I-355 and Rt. 6.

“Our therapists use evidenced-based treatment to address cancer patients’ physical and cognitive concerns caused by the disease and treatment,” said Valerie Paluszak, Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation. “Our programs focus on helping our patients meet their challenges and achieve their highest ability.”

The program includes an evaluation, therapeutic services and patient education for the following cancer related conditions:

  • fatigue
  • pain
  • joint stiffness
  • weakness
  • limited mobility
  • neuropathy
  • swallowing difficulty
  • speech difficulty
  • scar management
  • post-radiation skin
  • tissue changes
  • cognitive impairment
  • bowel and bladder dysfunction

Prevention and treatment for lymphedema is provided by a LANA certified therapist. This treatment consists of education, manual lymph drainage, compression bandaging and garment fitting, exercise, and long-term home management.

In addition, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross therapists have experience working with all types of cancers including: blood, bone, brain, breast, childhood, digestive, head and neck, lung, pelvic, reproductive, skin, and spinal.

“By coming to Silver Cross, patients have access to specialized care plans,” said Paluszak. “We are fortunate to have such highly trained and experienced physical, occupational and speech therapists working at Silver Cross who truly make patients’ treatment successful enabling them to thrive, so they can return to their daily routines.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a physician’s order, call the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross at (815) 300-7110.

About the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross

Silver Cross Hospital and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab have teamed up to expand post-acute physical medicine and rehabilitation services in Will County and the southwest Chicagoland communities. The partnership provides world-class rehabilitation care for a range of conditions for patients close to home. Silver Cross is the only healthcare facility in the area with this breadth of services in partnership with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. Together, we provide rehabilitation services in inpatient and outpatient care settings at four locations—at the main Hospital and the Silver Cross Professional Buildings in Homer Glen, New Lenox and West Joliet. Additionally, the team provides therapy services for patients on the hospital’s medical and surgical floors. For more information about the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross, call (815) 300-7110.

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.