Joan’s Lymphedema Story - Pella Regional Health Center

Convenience of Flexitouch

Joan Walvoord’s journey with lymphedema has been long and, at times, difficult. Joan had a hip surgery in 2008, surgery on both knees in 2009 and then surgery on her other hip in 2010. With all of those surgeries came scar tissue which is one of the leading factors in lymphedema.

Lymphedema is chronic swelling and can affect an entire limb and become a chronic source of discomfort. While lymphedema cannot be cured, symptoms can be controlled with therapy and self-management.

Pella Regional’s therapists are certified in lymphedema treatment and work with patients in relieving their pain and restoring their function. Treatment for lymphedema includes exercise programs, compression garments and massage.

“Kara and Brenda really know the problem areas in my legs,” said Joan. “They can really focus the massage on those areas. Plus, I really enjoy those ladies. But you can’t have therapy all of the time, so this set-up is another option.”

This new set up Joan refers to is Flexitouch, a new technology Rehabilitation at Pella Regional recently invested in. The system is designed to maintain the benefits of massage with a therapist, but the convenience of doing therapy at home or wherever the patient is.

Joan is a resident of Pella, but spends her winters in Arizona. Unfortunately, experts in lymphedema are difficult to find in Arizona. “I’m a mess every spring when I come back. They spend all summer getting me back in shape to go back to Arizona,” said Joan of the staff at Pella Regional.

“This will really help Joan over the winter months in Arizona,” said Kara Groenenboom, COTA/L, CLT. “Joan has other medical issues that make treating her lymphedema more complicated. If the fluid gets too close to her heart or lungs it can lead to many problems, including difficulty breathing. With Joan now using the Flexitouch, we anticipate her returning from Arizona in much better health in regard to her lymphedema than in past years.”