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Evaluation and Management of Head and Neck Lymphedema

Head and Neck
Head and Neck Lymphedema (HNL) is a devastating condition that frequently follows surgery or radiation for the treatment of head and neck cancer. Not only can HNL affect the patient’s communication and swallowing function, but in severe cases can affect respiration, vision, and even ambulation, not to mention the frustration and embarrassment that accompanies this disfiguring condition. However, with proper treatment, HNL can typically be reduced to a manageable level. This 2 ½ day workshop will provide the academic foundation and practical application for the therapist to successfully implement basic techniques to reduce the edema that can create such devastating impairments. Therapists will learn about: (1) the basic lymphatic system; (2) evaluation and measurement; (3) Manual Lymph drainage (MLD); (4) compression wraps and garments; (5) documentation and billing

Course Objectives

  1. Explain the basic anatomy and physiology of the head and neck lymphatic and venous systems and identify the relevant structures involved in lymphatic drainage.
  2. Identify the most common forms of head and neck cancer, their treatments and side effects, and their functional impact on communication and swallowing.
  3. List the various causes of edema in the head and neck and their appropriate treatments.
  4. Differentiate between typical post-operative edema and lymphedema involving the head and neck.
  5. Describe the effects of head and neck lymphedema on communication, swallowing, and psychosocial processes.
  6. Demonstrate basic proficiency in assessment and development of a basic treatment plan for a patient with head and neck edema.
  7. Demonstrate proficiency in basic techniques to reduce edema of the head and neck in order to improve communication and swallowing. These include:
    • Manual Lymph Drainage techniques
    • Compression wrapping for the head and neck
    • Kinesiotaping of the head and neck
  8. Evaluate a written case study for a patient with head and neck lymphedema and perform an appropriate treatment session for that patient.

Attendees will include both Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLTs) and Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) who treat head and neck cancer patients. The course content will include a basic review of lymphatic anatomy and physiology, as well as basic MLD techniques relevant to the head and neck. Emphasis of the course will be on the performance of basic techniques required for management of the patient with head and neck lymphedema and will be presented in a fashion that will accommodate the learning needs of both groups.

Manual Lymph Drainage

Brad Smith, MS, CCC-SLP, CLT has been a speech-language pathologist for over 20 years and a certified lymphedema therapist since 2006, specializing in the evaluation and treatment of patients with head and neck cancer. He served as the lead therapist in the Head and Neck Lymphedema (HNL) program at MD Anderson Cancer Center from 2006 until 2016, and is now based at the Sammons Cancer Center at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. He has presented at multiple local, state, and national conferences regarding proper management of head and neck lymphedema.

Continuing Education
CEUs for CLTs are provided through the FPTA, AOTA and NCBTMB. For SLPs this course is offered for 2.0 ASHA CEUs (Introductory level; Professional area).

Partial credit is not awarded by ASHA for CEUs. Full attendance is required.

Professional Prerequisite
Registration is limited to CLTs who have completed a 135-hour LANA-recognized lymphedema certification program, SLPs, and MDs.

Relevance to Occupational Therapy:
“Based upon each lesson and in accordance with AOTA Guidelines learners will receive insight into the “relevance to OT” of lessons via one or more of the following methods: Discussions groups, case studies, homework, demonstration and/or end-of-course surveys geared towards reflection on practice integration.”

AOTA Classification Codes pertinent to this the certification:
  • Category 1: Domain of OT
    • Occupations (ADL’s) Performance Skills (Motor, Process), Performance Patterns (Habits, Routines)
  • Category 2: Occupational Therapy Practice
    • Intervention (Preparatory Methods and Tasks, Education and Training, Outcomes: Quality of Life)

Class Times
A total of 20 hours of instruction is provided in the Advanced Topics Course "Evaluation and Management of Head and Neck Lymphedema." Class hours are Friday and Saturday 8:00am-5:30pm and Sunday 8:00am to 12noon.

Special Needs Requests: Accessibility needs of learners with disabilities.
This continuing education activity is fully accessible and addresses the needs not only of people with physical impairments, but also of those with sensory impairments (i.e., hearing, speech, vision), and emotional and learning disabilities. This includes accessible technology and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for distance learning. The Provider ensures an instructional environment that enhances the learning process. Resource or reference materials and instructional aids and equipment are current, appropriate for the learning activity, and support the intended learning outcomes. The Provider attempts to create a fully accessible educational environment from which all learners can benefit and provides an opportunity for learners to identify special needs in advance of the activity.

The tuition for the Advanced Topics Course "Evaluation and Management of Head and Neck Lymphedema" is $650.

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