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Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute

Oncology Rehabilitation & Lymphedema Services

The Rehabilitative Services Department, located at the Maine Medical Center Portland Campus, offers psychiatric, speech language pathology, and physical and occupational therapy to inpatients undergoing cancer treatment. A physician referral is needed to obtain services. For more information, call (207) 662-4892.

The New England Rehabilitation Hospital at the Brighton Campus offers outpatient rehabilitative services to patients undergoing services at the Maine Center for Cancer Care. One of the newest programs is the lymphedema program (see below) for patients who have undergone surgery for breast cancer. Physical therapists are located on site who work with patients and their physicians to structure a customized treatment regime.

For more information on the outpatient programs provided, call (207) 662-8377.

The Lymphedema Program at
New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland

Lymphedema can be a problem for 35 to 40 percent of patients after mastectomy or lumpectomy with axillary node dissection. It is important to recognize this and do as much as possible to help these women develop therapeutic strategies. The lymphedema patient's quality of life will depend on a well-designed, personalized management program. The Breast Care Center and New England Rehabilitation Hospital's Lymphedema Program can be important resources in this effort. The program provides instruction and support for a full range of therapies, including

Manual Lymph Drainage
This is a highly-specialized massage technique that is designed to mobilize fluid from the extremity and promote lymph drainage by dilating remaining lymphatic channels. It is a hands-on therapy performed by a lymphedema therapist or trained caregiver.

Compression Treatments
Several compression appliances are available to help with edema control. Low pressure pneumatic pumps, bandaging after manual drainage and customized compression garments can all be useful in reducing the re-accumulation of edema fluid. However, patient acceptance will often depend on the training and encouragement provided by the therapist.

Therapeutic Exercise
A key to success in the long-term management of lymphedema is the patient's commitment to a program of therapeutic exercise, not only to promote flexibility and strength, but also to take advantage of the pumping action of the muscles to increase lymph drainage. A fully-functional limb is essential to the patient's quality of life.

The duration of the treatment program varies from one to two visits for measurement and fitting for appropriate compression garments, to ten to 12 visits for patients participating in the manual lymph drainage program. After that, the patient will be able to manage her own continued therapy. Results vary from near-prevention of lymphedema to sufficient reduction of swelling to allow a return to activities of daily living and recreational pursuits.

New England Rehabilitation Hospital's Lymphedema Program can be accessed through the Breast Care Center in Scarborough or by direct referral. A physician's order is required for reimbursement by most major insurance carriers. For more information, please call (207) 662-8377.


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