While growing up in Denmark, Eva Johannesen, PT, worked as a nurse’s aide on weekends while going through high school.
Eva stayed in that job full time for two years after graduation. Through this experience she became interested in working in a field where she could take care of people.
As part of her education to become a physical therapist, she was introduced to lymphedema therapy and trained as a respiratory therapist.
Eva notes that physical therapy education in Europe is a little different than it is in the U.S. When she arrived at Bacharach 25 years ago, she discovered that there was a need for a lymphedema therapist. In 1995 she completed the Vodder Lymphedema Certification program and later on took additional training in advanced lymphedema treatment techniques with Doctor Chikly. “At the time, lymphedema disorders and how to manage them was not well understood in the U.S. I enjoyed helping and educating people about how to manage this condition,” says Eva.
Treating and Managing Lymphedema
Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling of any body part including arms, legs, trunk or face. It is often associated with a cancer diagnosis, however can also be caused by other conditions such as circulatory problems, infections or surgical procedures. While there is no cure for the majority of lymphedema conditions, a lymphedema trained physical therapist can help teach patients how to manage it. The treatment includes manual lymph drainage, exercises, and donning of compression bandages or garments as needed. All of these steps promote natural drainage of the lymph, reduction in swelling and increased blood flow to the affected area.
“I teach patients and their families how to don compression bandages and/or garments to the affected body area when needed and instruct them in lymphedema self-massage and exercises they can do to help control the swelling,” says Eva. Once patients have learned these techniques, most of them can manage the condition on their own and only return to therapy for tune ups.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program<
“I became involved with Bacharach’s pulmonary therapy program, once again, because of my education,” explains Eva. “In Denmark physical therapists are trained respiratory therapists because we do not have a separate education for that.”
Pulmonary rehab patient exercising under the watchful eye of therapist Bill Wolfe.
Bacharach’s pulmonary rehabilitation program helps patients dealing with COPD, emphysema, pulmonary hypertension, lung transplants and more. Patients are put through a series of cardio-pulmonary and stretching exercises. In addition they are taught correct posture and breathing techniques.
“Many people do not realize that posture plays an important role in efficient breathing. If your posture is slumped, then it is more difficult to take deep breaths,” says Eva. “The pulmonary rehab treatment takes place in the cardiac rehab department. That way we can monitor patients closely as lung and heart functions are closely related.”
The goal of pulmonary therapy is to improve breathing, lung function, strength and endurance. The program helps patients to walk longer, climb stairs better and accomplish their daily tasks with less difficulty.