Occupational Therapy Brings Relief

April is Occupational Therapy Month

Corydon, March 26, 2012: Choosing to live with pain is often a compromise people make when the right treatment options have not been provided or available. For Stan Lovett owner of the Grass Roots Café in Humeston, pain and swelling in his lower right leg had been constant for 4 or 5 years with little relief despite numerous visits to different doctors. Classified as an idiopathic condition, meaning it was of uncertain or unknown origin, Stan was left to suffer with his condition. “It seems there is not enough curiosity to explore what’s behind a patient’s condition,” commented Stan’s wife, Sarah.

Unknowingly, Stan had been suffering from lower extremity lymphedema caused by a failure in his lymph system. When this type of failure occurs lymphatic fluid exceeds the body’s ability to transport and effectively remove the fluid build-up. Left untreated this fluid build up causes tissue channels to increase in size, reduces oxygen availability, interferes with wound healing, and provides a setting for bacteria that can lead to infection.
Sometimes, we are fortunate to have the right sequence of events take place that bring a totally unexpected and positive outcome. Having his right knee replaced in May of 2011 brought Stan to the Wayne County Rehabilitation Services Department in Corydon. During his treatment Physical Therapist Alyssa Wilson, noticed the swelling in his leg and suggested occupational therapy. They were impressed by her attentiveness and concern.

After receiving the required referral from his physician, Stan began treatment with Jamie Luedtke, a licensed occupational therapist at Wayne County Hospital (WCH). “During the first session about half the time is spent on education and explaining the process to help the patient understand what is going to take place,” commented Jamie Luedtke, OTR/L. The treatment regimen included using a tape measure to measure the circumference of Stan’s leg before and after treatment. As Jamie explained, “It is important to take the measurements to know how effective the treatment is. The process used is called manual lymph drainage (MLD) which is a specialized massage technique to break up the blockages, reactivate lymph pump function, and invigorate the fluid flow to cleanse the body of the toxic buildups that should be removed.” Stan underwent 45 minute sessions, twice a week, for a 12 week period. He also wore compression stockings during the hottest summer months to keep up with his treatment.

Stan admits he was skeptical saying, “I didn’t think it would work. I honestly did not know this type of treatment even existed.”  He and his wife, Sarah, who is a retired nurse, consulted with several other patients while trying to decide where to seek treatment. There were four locations in the area to choose from. They received wonderful comments about the WCH Rehabilitation Therapy Department which helped them make their choice.  “I came to realize, occupational therapy is dealing with a person’s quality of life and how well one can function,” commented Stan. “Another convenience I liked was being able to pre-schedule my appointments so I could plan the rest of my activities.”

What stands out about this experience to both Stan and Sarah are the people at the WCH Rehabilitation Center. “They were so good to us, always upbeat and positive. Very caring, personal and professional; they spent time with us so we understood what was being done and why,” said the Lovetts. “I’m a believer now,” said Stan.

April is Occupational Therapy Month and a time to recognize Occupational Therapists whose mission is to help individuals who suffer from a disability, a disorder or an injury that impairs their daily function and independence.  Thank you for helping others live life to the fullest every day.  If you would like more information on occupational therapy go to the American Occupational Therapy Association website at www.aota.org, or contact Jamie Luedtke, OTR/L at WCH 641-872-5278.