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The Basic MLD Certification Course
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Course Description
This course is a basic certification program in the techniques and applications of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD). This 5-day, 60-hour course (20 hours of online Home Study and 40 hours of live classroom instruction) exposes students to the methodology known as Vodder Technique, developed by Emil Vodder, Ph.D. The manual lymphatic drainage course is targeted at manual therapists such as medically-oriented Massage Therapists, Physical Therapists and PTAs, Occupational Therapists and COTAs, and Registered Nurses and LPNs/LVNs, and Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs), all of whom maintain clinical practices that encounter patients in need of edema management or general health level support. This course combines a comfortable balance of didactic and practical lessons with the aim of providing generous theoretical support as well as manual skills mastery.

Course Content

Upon completion of the Norton School Basic MLD Certification Course, students will be able to demonstrate comprehension of the following topics:
  •  basic anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system
  •  basic pathology of conditions associated with diseases of the lymphatic system and the development of edema

indications for successful application of Manual Lymph Drainage

  •  contraindications and precautions for the use of Manual Lymph Drainage
  •  examination of lymphedema (primary and secondary)
  •  sequences for the treatment of both healthy and diseased lymphatic systems
Course Objectives
Completion of the Norton School manual lymphatic drainage training requires students to successfully:
  •  demonstrate an understanding of the anatomical features and terminology of the functional lymphatic system
  •  demonstrate comprehension of information related to normal lymphatic physiology and the differences encountered in a diseased state
  •  demonstrate an understanding of the proper clinical applications of MLD (indications)
  •  demonstrate an understanding of the improper clinical applications of MLD (contraindications)

demonstrate an understanding of clinical applications where caution should be exercised (precautions)


perform techniques consistent with proper Vodder-style MLD and memorize the sequences for all body areas of the intact lymphatic system


demonstrate the ability to customize treatment strategies for various pathologies where MLD is indicated


demonstrate the ability to employ MLD on primary and secondary lymphedema patients (medically-uncomplicated, physician prescribed treatment)


Classroom Environment
The Norton School is known for its unique educational climate. Students experience an uplifting, enjoyable, and engaging environment that is highly conducive to learning. Our instructors strive to create an atmosphere in which every student feels capable of interacting with the class through lively discussion. The student body's eclectic mix of professionals contributes a multi-layered perspective to classroom discussions thereby enriching appreciation for the critical role this unique form of therapy plays throughout the modern healthcare system.
A balanced blend of didactic and practical concepts effectively stimulates student insight and participation. A seamless integration of theoretical and practical demonstration components, while in a relaxed and intimate setting, makes the Basic MLD Certification Course an invaluable and unforgettable experience for Norton School alumni.

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)
MLD is a very gentle manual treatment that improves the function of the lymphatic system throughout the body. In the 1930s the techniques of MLD were first introduced by Dr. Emil Vodder, PhD, MT from Denmark. MLD is becoming widely recognized in the United States as a treatment for many pathologies including post surgical swelling, post traumatic edema (e.g., sports injuries), migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. MLD is further used to promote general relaxation and for cleansing (detoxification) of the skin and superficial fascia. In lymphedema therapy MLD is used to reroute the lymph flow around blocked areas into healthy lymph vessels, which drain into the venous circulation.
  Complete Decongestive Therapy  


  Lymphedema Courses  

This Basic MLD Certification Course does not serve as credit toward further credentialing as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT). However, it will prove to be a supportive learning environment for students who are inclined to seek additional certification in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT).

  Lymphedema Courses  

Senior Faculty
Steve Norton, MLD/CDT Instructor, CLT-LANA, NCMT-NCBTMB
Andrea Cheville, MD, MLD/CDT Certified Therapist
Joy Cohn, PT, CLT-LANA
John Beckwith, PT, CLT-LANA
See the Faculty/Testimonials Section

Class Times
A total of 60 hours of instruction is provided in the Basic MLD Certification Course. The online Home Study totaling 20 hours must be completed before the live class meeting. A total of 40 hours of classroom instruction is provided at the live course location. Class hours are 8:00am–5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

Certificate/Continuing Education Credits (CEUs)
Participants will receive, upon successful completion (have passed the written and practical final exams), a certificate of completion confirming their status as certified in Basic Manual Lymph Drainage (Vodder Technique). CEUs are available for Occupational Therapists through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), for Physical Therapists through the Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA), and for Massage Therapists through the NCBTMB. For questions about receiving CEUs please call us toll-free at (866) 808-2249.

The tuition for the Basic MLD Certification Course is $1,250. A deposit of $450 is required at the time of registration and will hold a spot in the course until the remaining balance is received no later than two (2) weeks prior to the first day of class.

Tuition Credit
Students who meet the eligibility requirements for further training as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (as per LANA guidelines - available at may apply $1,000 of the MLD course tuition towards any Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) certification course offered by the Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy. This credit will be valid for one calendar year from the completion date of the MLD certification course.

  Lymphedema Training  
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