Dr. Rochester, an impressive member of the team

Published 11:55 am Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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St. Luke’s Hospital entered a renaissance period beginning about four years ago. We’ve written about the new doctors, programs, technology, fundraising and more. According to you, our quality scores have increased, and our community confidence has grown. We have an article coming out in a couple of weeks that shares how we are now in the top quartile of performance among rural hospitals nationally. We’ve got “rolling thunder” going for us. One of those areas of momentum is St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Center.

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Center is one of several crown jewels at the Hospital. The center features 5,500 sf of some of the most advanced equipment found in the region and attracts patients from miles around. Even more impressive are the talented physical, occupational, and speech therapists that we have on our team!

Physical therapists are healthcare experts in movement who evaluate and treat human body disorders. PTs can help you manage injuries and illnesses in your integumentary, musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, and neurological systems. PTs diagnose and treat people at every life stage, from newborn to end of life. People visit a physical therapist for advice on becoming healthier, to prevent future issues, and to rehab for a new or existing condition. 

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My article today features some information from Taylor Rochester, DPT, CLT, one of the impressive members of our team. The letters behind her name do little to reveal the amount of study and physical practicum Taylor has logged to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy certified in Complete Decongestive Therapy. As a certified lymphedema therapist, Dr. Rochester can teach you about evidence-based techniques and equipment that may help reduce swelling. 

Lymphology is a tremendously under-studied area of medical specialization and is one of the most misdiagnosed and under-treated conditions related to cancer treatment or injury. Lymphedema is not curable; treatment focuses on preventing complications and reducing swelling. Dr. Rochester suggests reducing complications from lymphedema by avoiding injury to the affected limb, as cuts and burns can encourage infection. 

Lymphedema is a malfunction in the lymphatic system resulting in abnormal buildup of protein-rich fluid in body tissues. The dysfunction could be with the lymph vessels or with the lymph nodes. 

There are two categories of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema may be present at birth, develop at puberty, or show signs in adulthood. Primary lymphedema usually affects both legs and appears in women more than men. Secondary lymphedema occurs because of an injury or removal of a section of the lymphatic system. Cancer and cancer treatments are a common cause of secondary lymphedema.

Dr. Rochester said she was “first exposed to lymphedema and Complete Decongestive Therapy (the gold standard for treating lymphedema) in physical therapy school. “As a student physical therapist at a cancer center, I saw various stages of lymphedema in different areas of the body. There, I gained hands-on experience as a student treating lymphedema patients.” She later attended Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy in Columbus, Ohio, to earn her license as a certified lymphedema therapist through didactic learning and hands-on skill acquisition.

Dr. Rochester was athletic growing up and always knew she wanted to enter medicine in some way. It was through an opportunity to job shadow with a physical therapy clinic that she fell in love with PT. “I love seeing the patients come in, get better, and return to the activities they enjoy,” she shared. And, with her education in cutting-edge techniques and her personalized one-on-one work with patients, she sees those improvements often! 

Dr. Rochester earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Clemson University and received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Anderson University. Committed individuals like Taylor allow us access to specialized services here in our local community, and we are so very grateful!

If you have a healthcare topic of interest or want to learn more about St. Luke’s Hospital, please note me at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org. Also, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or visit our website at StLukesNC.org.