From June 2009, a new DVD is available to help self-manage lymphoedema of the arm or leg. Although there is no cure for lymphoedema there is much that can be done to help reduce and control the swelling, and the problems it causes. This DVD has been produced as a joint initiative between the Leeds Lymphoedema Service (Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust) and the Lymphoedema Support Network. It is designed for adults who are being treated for lymphoedema irrespective of why it has developed. The DVD is a visual guide to accompany the information given and methods that have been shown in clinic.
The visual content of this new DVD is enhanced by the professional contribution of the LSN's Patron, Zoë Wanamaker, who very kindly contributed her time to help with this project by recording the voice-over. The DVD provides an updated guide to self-treatment and aims to provide information that is easy to understand and that will encourage and motivate patients to carry out a daily self-management regime.
One of the main priorities was to produce a DVD that would be of special help to patients and for this reason, people living with lymphoedema were central to its production. Additional short interviews with Professors Peter Mortimer and Christine Moffatt provide useful introductory information that gives an insight into the clinical background of lymphoedema.
There are four separate sections covering: skin care, compression garments, simple lymphatic drainage (self-massage), exercises and activities.
A daily routine of skin care will help to keep the skin in good condition and prevent complications such as cellulitis. The skin care section shows a method that can be used.
There have been great improvements in the supply of compression garments over the last few years and this is a very welcome development. There is a section on how to put on and take off a sleeve or stocking as part of the daily routine. Also, some examples of the type of exercises and activities that can be done - and this includes tasks around the house!
Many people find that lymphatic massage is a very effective way of treating lymphoedema and everyone can be shown how to do this for themselves using a method called Simple Lymphatic Drainage (SLD). The aim of SLD is to redirect the lymph drainage away from congested areas into unaffected parts of the body where the fluid can drain away.
The method shown in this DVD is based on gentle movements that create a slow skin 'stretch' to direct the lymph flow in a certain direction. The technique is easy to carry out and simple to understand and the DVD can be used as a prompt when working through the technique. For those patients with swelling - or risk of swelling - in both limbs, there is a section that shows a method that can be used.
The LSN is extremely grateful to the patients for agreeing to participate in the filming and to Macmillan Cancer Support who funded this project.
Some people should not use the DVD without first seeking medical advice. This includes people who are currently under investigation for cancer or who are in the early stages of treatment i.e. recovering from surgery, receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The price of each DVD is £12 (inclusive of UK postage and packing).