Success as an HME compression provider takes commitment, education and an understanding that there is more to compression beyond the feet.
The compression sock is an integral product to carry for any HME provider committed to using compression technology to help patients. Compression doesn’t even need to be required due a medical condition – it’s an almost universal need. Sitting or standing for excessive amounts of time can be terrible for your health, especially the feet. For example, sitting with your legs crossed beneath your chair can cause pressure that results in swollen ankles or varicose veins. And standing all day at work can cause issues from your neck all the way to your feet.
“A lot of young, healthy athletes, doctors and nurses are on their feet all day,” says Sydel Howell, director of San Diego Homecare Supplies. “Hairstylists, athletes, military service members — anybody who is active or standing or sitting for long periods of time. You don’t have to be a senior with a swollen ankle to benefit from compression. All you have to be is vertical.”
Howell pointed out that when you’re supine, you have 10 mm of mercurial pressure from gravity on your body. As soon as you stand, you have 90 mm of mercurial pressure on your ankles.
So it’s easy to see why compression socks are very popular. But it’s not the only compression product that you should consider carrying in your store if you want to service a wide breadth of compression customers.
“While compression hosiery is the cornerstone, most providers are narrowly thinking about the classic medical products,” says Brad Wimsatt, director of business development, SAI Therapeutic Brands. “Compression wear, as it pertains to leg health, is a much broader subject. Pertaining to leg health, ‘stockings’ should be described as classic medical, athletic or fashion. Folks of the older generations are likely to continue to wear the classic medical stockings, while the younger generations are more likely to focus on the athletic and fashion products for preventative measures. Wraps and leggings could fit in this category under a wearables section with less emphasis on the medical aspect. Sleeves would fall into two separate categories. Lymphedema sleeves would most definitely fall into the medical realm, while athletic sleeves are tailored to active individuals.”
Helping Patients with Lymphedema
Lymphedema was once considered a niche, unknown market. Now it has taken huge steps in awareness, understanding the disease and management. It can affect different areas of the body and often requires nonhosiery compression products for treatment.
“Lymphedema is basically swelling because your lymphatic system is not processing the fluids through your body either due to a trauma or a cancer treatment, or an injury or a surgery,” says Howell. “It can be caused by many different reasons. Between 30 percent and 50 percent of women who are treated for breast cancer develop lymphedema at some point in their lives.”
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