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What special arrangements do I need to make at home if I am going to receive Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy (DLT)?

Bandages may be applied on your swollen limb during the treatment period and some daily activities may be difficult. Consider how you are going to bathe, get dressed and carry out your daily chores. You will be encouraged to keep active however, it is not a time to sit and do nothing. Your therapist has a great deal of experience and will be able to advise you.

What general exercise can I do and what precautions should I take?

Maintaining fitness and normal body weight is important for people with lymphoedema, so a healthy exercise program should be part of daily life in addition to the exercise included in the lymphoedema reduction therapy program. What we know about exercise and lymphoedema is based mainly on studies on breast cancer related lymphoedema. Some of this knowledge may be applied to lymphoedema due to other causes. Weight lifting exercise after breast cancer treatments is thought to be safe and may even reduce the risk of developing arm lymphoedema. The exercise program should performed under supervision and start when the lymphoedema is stable (i.e. infection free and the volume has not changed over three months). Initially very low weights are used and gradually progressed. Wearing a well fitting compression garment is recommended. It is best to be consistent with the exercise, or after a break of a week to reduce the weight and after a longer break to return to the starting weight. Irregular exercise may cause injury with detrimental effect to the lymphoedema. Aerobic exercise does not seem to have an adverse effect on lymphoedema but more research needs to be done in this area before any clear statements can be made. Exercise such as Tai Chi, Qigong, yoga and Pilates are popular and have health benefits but their effects on lymphoedema are not known.

Is water based exercise helpful?

In general, the answer to this is yes, and research has verified this. Some useful factors regarding exercising in water can be that it helps with buoyancy; it offers a comfortable resistance to movement; a body of water can also act like compression; it may help to cool you down, which is useful in a hot climate, and so on. There are safety issues to consider before you plunge into exercise based water and it’s best to check with a therapist to work out whether you need supervision or guidelines. Risk of infection from public pools should also be considered. As with all exercise, doing too much water exercise may start to counteract the benefits.

How can I prevent an infection?

The guidelines for this are to practice very regular skin care, and to be proactive with preventative measures.Daily moisturising will assist in preventing the skin from becoming dehydrated and more fragile. If breaks in the skin do occur, acting quickly is recommended. Some times carrying a prescription for antibiotics, is given to a person with recurring infection.

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