“People would see the swelling in my hand and arm and say ‘Oh my God,’” says Naples resident Paul Borsari. Borsari is living with chronic lymphatic leukemia, which caused severe swelling in his arm, and lymphedema.
Lymphedema is a condition in which excess lymph fluid collects in tissue, most often in the legs and/or arms. The fluid causes swelling and if left untreated often causes changes in the skin, even wounds. There are different causes of lymphedema, one can be hereditary or genetic where the individual is born with a compromised lymphatic system. The other is the result of a surgically invasive procedure that may obstruct the lymphatics, and it may result secondary to venous insufficiency.
The severe swelling makes it hard for patients to bend their limbs, complete regular tasks, and can be painful.
Compression stockings are often used to aid circulation and help reduce swelling, but they don’t always solve the problem, according to Alyssa Parker, Clinical Administrator at Acute Wound Care. The company provides patients with in-home compression pumps that have shown great success in boosting circulation and reducing swelling in both the upper and lower extremities.
In Borsari’s case, he first tried a compression sleeve, then 15 rounds of therapy involving massage and compression wraps.
Following a hospital stay, he was sent home with physical therapy. It was the Lymphedema therapist who connected him with Acute Wound Care. Before long Borsari had an in-home, hospital grade compression pump and was able to successfully manage his lymphedema on his own schedule.
Parker says, “Compression pumps have been around for decades. Many doctors know about their use in hospitals to help with blood clots, but they are unaware of the availability of the treatment for in-home use.”
The pumps sleeves fit from the foot to the groin or the hand to the shoulder. They contain multiple chambers that fill with air in a sequential motion, replicating the circulatory system and assisting blood flow from the extremities back to the heart.
The excess fluid in the limbs is worked back through the circulatory system where it can be naturally eliminated by the body.
Compression pumps are not only used to treat lymphedema but are also helpful for patients who have venous insufficiency, chronic edema, poor circulation and ongoing open wounds.
Parker became interested in lymphedema through a research project conducted on the predisposition of the condition in college, later working with patients directly in the treatment of the disease. She says, “A lot of people are misdiagnosed and are not being treated effectively.”
Then there are the wounds. She says, “In some cases, we get patients that haven’t had success healing a wound in months to a year. With the right treatment and specialty dressings, our goal is to get the wound healed within 45 days.”
It’s hard for wounds to heal when the body has poor circulation. Parker says, “It’s important to use proper dressings along with compression when needed. Individuals trying home remedies to heal a wound without proper dressings are at a higher risk of infection which may lead hospitalization.”
Once Borsari got a compression pump to aid in his circulation, he saw results almost immediately. He says, “It feels like a massage, like someone is hugging your arm.” He uses it at least once a day for an hour explaining, “I’m gonna watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy anyway, so why not do something else while I’m sitting there.”
After suffering with the unsightly swelling for years, he says, “My arm looks great, my wrist is a normal size, and I can see the veins in the back of my hand again.”
About his experience with Acute Wound Care, Borsari says, “My therapist was unbelievable. She was so thorough and taught me techniques for how to use the machine. I was so impressed by her professionalism.”
The compression pumps are portable so patients can travel with them. However, Parker says, “A prescription is needed for the machine. Many insurance carriers cover the treatment. The specialists at Acute Wound Care handle the entire process.”
Borsari says, “I recommend this treatment to everybody and anyone who has this disease. I’m back to playing golf again. I’m back to normal. I feel great!”