Lymphoedema is the swelling of a limb due to the accumulation of excess lymph fluid in the tissues. It can be caused by:
- Poorly formed lymphatic tissue
- Following surgery, especially mastectomy or melanoma surgery
- Radiotherapy to lymph nodes
- Filariasis - a tropical disease
- Trauma or burns
If you suffer from lymphoedema, Mt Wilga's lymphoedema program is designed to help you. It is a safe, effective and non-invasive treatment and through a program of physical management and manual lymph drainage, you may expect the return of the lymphoedematous limb to near normal size.
Your rehabilitation program is managed by a team of health professionals:
- Rehabilitation Physician
- Rehabilitation Nurses
- Case manager
You may also be referred to other staff if required. These may include:
- Occupational Therapist
- Exercise Physiologist
Your rehabilitation team meets regularly to discuss your progress and review your goals. You are part of the team and will be encouraged to participate in the planning and review of your program.
Your rehabilitation will be conducted as a day patient program, unless you are assessed by your Rehabilitation Specialist as requiring inpatient care.
Complex physical therapy
Your lymphoedema program involves complex physical therapy and may include the following:
- Skin hygiene to eliminate fungal and bacterial infection
- Lymphatic massage to manually drain the lymphatic system
- Bandaging using graduated pressure, which ensures the maintenance of reduction in size of the limb
- Exercises including hydrotherapy to help the movement of lymph in your bandaged limb
- Elevation of the limb is recommended during rest periods and overnight
- Training for you and your family so that self management is possible
- The prescription and fitting of a pressure garment when the limb has reduces to near normal size
- Advice about home programs of daily massage and exercise to ensure maintenance of results
- An occupational therapy assessment and advice in use of your affected limb in every day activities if required
- Counselling and dietary services if required.
An assessment will be undertaken prior to the commencement of your program. This will include:
- Examination and confirmation of the diagnosis
- Assessment of intercurrent medical problems
- Assessment of skin status
- Measurement of limbs
- Program explanation, including length of program and post-program home management
- Assessment of motivation and care resources
A commencement date will be set at the completion of this assessment.
You will be discharged from the lymphoedema program when your limb size has reduced sufficiently and you have been fitted with your compression garment. Follow up may be arranged for you with the lymphoedema team as an outpatient and you will be advised of other outpatient services which will help in maintaining overall fitness and wellbeing.