Posts Tagged ‘lymphedema’

TRIVIA: Do you know why Giraffes don’t get lymphedema?

Physiologists have discovered that giraffe skin is inelastic, meaning that it does not stretch like the skin of humans.  Therefore, the world’s tallest animals are not susceptible to health projects like lymphedema and venous disease, even though they may be on their feet for 24 hours a day!  (They only need about 2 hours of sleep and often do that while standing!)

The giraffe’s skin has also been studied by NASA in research into gravity suits.  Interesting, eh?

 

Weight Lifting and Lymphedema

Photo credit: Candace di Carlo (Penn Current)

. . . . . . Kathryn H. Schmitz, Ph.D., MPH . . . . . . Photo credit: Candace di Carlo (Penn Current)

This is an extremely important topic, especially in light of some recent news coverage.  I (Amber) was going to do a little write-up on the matter, but just can’t put it better than Joe Zuther.  Here are his words as published in Lymphedema Today:

As some of you may know, an article published August 13, 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine addressed the topic of weight lifting in women with breast cancer-related lymphedema. The article summarized an 18-month study performed by Dr. Kathryn Schmitz and colleagues in a controlled trial of twice weekly progressive weight lifting involving 141 breast cancer survivors with stable upper extremity lymphedema.

Shortly after this article was published, we received a large number of phone calls and email messages from patients and graduates of our lymphedema management certification courses asking us for clarification on some misleading and inaccurate statements that were made on the results of this study.

One of the more prominent questions we received from patients was: “If it is okay and safe for me to lift weights as this study suggests, is it okay then to lift heavy items at home or at work as well?”

The obvious answer to this question is “NO!”

This is not what this study suggested either, it is clearly a misunderstanding. As a result of these misconceptions, the National Lymphedema Network’s Medical Advisory Board asked Dr. Schmitz to address the many misleading statements that were made in the media about the results of her study. I am very glad to report that Dr. Schmitz answered the NLN’s call and her response was published in the April/June 2010 issue of the LymphLink. This response was necessary to clarify the results of this important study, and what they mean to patients living with lymphedema, or those individuals at risk of developing this condition. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Medicare Lymphedema Treatment Bill Introduced

H.R. 4662, “Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment Cost Saving Act of 2010,” was recently introduced in the Senate by Congressman Larry Kissell of North Carolina.  Ron Paul (R-TX14) was the first co-sponsor of the bill.  Phil Roe (R-TN1) is the second.

Please urge your local Congressmen and Senators to support this bill. Lymphedema is treatable, but proper treatment is extensive.  Passage of this bill would allow for many people to receive treatment for services that would not otherwise be covered by insurance.  When Medicare makes a change, private insurance companies usually follow suit.

Specific goals of the bill include:

  • to provide diagnosis and treatment of individuals with and at risk for lymphedema according to current medical treatment standards, including manual lymph drainage, compression bandages, garments, devices, and exercise
  • to enhance quality of lymphedema patient care by providing therapist qualification requirements
  • to provide for lymphedema patient education in the procedures for self-treatment so as to transfer the treatment from the clinical to the home setting
  • to encourage patient self-treatment plan adherence by providing necessary medical supplies for use at home
  • to expand patient access to qualified lymphedema therapy by extending coverage to qualified, trained lymphedema therapists who may practice under a qualified physician, physical therapist or occupational therapist.

Yes!  When this passes, lymphedema management at AMMA (manual lymph drainage, combined decongestive therapy, bandages & exercises) will be covered by insurance!

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As requested, we have included sample letters below.  You are welcome to use them as a blueprint for letters or emails to your Representatives and Senators. These letters only represent suggested verbiage. Please feel free to customize your letter in any way.

The bill is currently in the United States House of Representatives.  We have included two letters to representatives.  If you are a resident of Tennessee’s District 1, the please use the letter below to thank Representative Phil Roe for already taking action on the bill by becoming a co-sponsor.  If you are not one of Representative Roe’s constituents, please use the Congress Letter.  Next, please urge your state Senators to introduce and support a similar bill in the United States Senate.  A sample Senate Letter is also included.

Don’t know how to contact your Representatives?  Not even sure who they are?  Just enter your zip code to find out at http://www.contactingthecongress.org/.  It will link you to a page listing both your state senators and your district representatives to Congress.  From there, you may contact them via fax, phone, email or snail mail.

Sample Letter to Representative Roe:

Dear Representative Roe,

As your constituent, I am writing to thank you for signing on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 4662, the “Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment Cost Saving Act of 2010,” introduced by Congressman Larry Kissell on February 23, 2010. [Please list your credentials (if any) and any personal experience you may have with lymphedema (if any). Do you struggle with lymphedema? Does your mother? Son? Best friend? Are you a cancer survivor?]

Lymphedema is a medical condition affecting an estimated 2 million Medicare Beneficiaries. Secondary lymphedema sometimes results from surgery and curative radiation. H.R. 4662 is projected to save hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars every year in avoidance of costs of treating preventable lymphedema-related cellulitis. This act will reduce Medicare costs while improving patient care and quality of life. It will also expand patient access to qualified lymphedema therapy by extending coverage to qualified, specially trained lymphedema therapists who may practice under a qualified physician, physical therapist or occupational therapist.

The clinically-proven treatment of lymphedema is called “complex decongestive therapy” and includes manual lymph drainage, appropriate bandaging and compression garments, specific therapeutic exercises and proper skin care. It is used world-wide by the medical community, is not experimental and has decades of proven success. Unfortunately, not all components of this treatment fall under categories for which Medicare or private insurance companies typically provide coverage. With treatment, a patient lives a long, healthy and virtually normal life. But without treatment, the disease can grow progressively worse, skyrocketing medical costs with hospitalizations and causing severe disfigurement, disability, pain, and in some cases even results in death.

Medicare has no requirement for special lymphedema training or competence on the part of the therapists treating lymphedema patients. Compression garments are a crucial part of treatment, yet insurance covers a fraction of the cost of both the garments and the treatments. Medicare does not cover the supplies and garments at all, despite a recent AHQR review that included garment use as standard treatment of this condition.

Thank you again for joining Representatives Larry Kissell (D-NC8) and Ron Paul (R-TX14) in publicly supporting this bill as a co-sponsor. “The Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment Cost Savings Act of 2010” will change lives.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)
(include your address here, even if you’re sending this by email)

Sample Congress Letter:

Dear Representative [Name],

As your constituent, I am writing to urge you to sign on as a primary or co-sponsor of H.R. 4662, the “Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment Cost Saving Act of 2010,” introduced by Congressman Larry Kissell on February 23, 2010. [Please list your credentials (if any) and any personal experience you may have with lymphedema (if any). Do you struggle with lymphedema? Does your mother? Son? Best friend? Are you a cancer survivor?]

As you may be unfamiliar with the disease, here is a link from the Lance Armstrong Foundation that explains the condition and its treatment: http://www.livestrong.org/site/c.khLXK1PxHmF/b.2660675/k.9471/Physical_Effects_Lymphedema.htm

Lymphedema is a medical condition affecting an estimated 2 million Medicare Beneficiaries. Secondary lymphedema sometimes results from surgery and curative radiation. H.R. 4662 is projected to save hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars every year in avoidance of costs of treating preventable lymphedema-related cellulitis. This act will reduce Medicare costs while improving patient care and quality of life. It will also expand patient access to qualified lymphedema therapy by extending coverage to qualified, specially trained lymphedema therapists who may practice under a qualified physician, physical therapist or occupational therapist.

The clinically-proven treatment of lymphedema is called “complex decongestive therapy” and includes manual lymph drainage, appropriate bandaging and compression garments, specific therapeutic exercises and proper skin care. It is used world-wide by the medical community, is not experimental and has decades of proven success. Unfortunately, not all components of this treatment fall under categories for which Medicare or private insurance companies typically provide coverage. With treatment, a patient lives a long, healthy and virtually normal life. But without treatment, the disease can grow progressively worse, skyrocketing medical costs with hospitalizations and causing severe disfigurement, disability, pain, and in some cases even results in death.

Medicare has no requirement for special lymphedema training or competence on the part of the therapists treating lymphedema patients. Compression garments are a crucial part of treatment, yet insurance covers a fraction of the cost of both the garments and the treatments. Medicare does not cover the supplies and garments at all, despite a recent AHQR review that included garment use as standard treatment of this condition.

Please join Representatives Larry Kissell (D-NC8), Ron Paul (R-TX14), and Phil Roe (R-TN1) by publicly supporting this bill as a primary or co-sponsor. For additional information or to (co)sponsor this bill, contact Zach Pfister in Congressman Kissell’s office at zach.pfister@mail.house.gov or 202-225-3715.

Thank you for your help.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)
(include your address here, even if you’re sending this by email)

Sample Senate Letter:

Dear Senator [Name],

Congressman Larry Kissel of North Carolina is Sponsoring H.R. 4662, the “Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment Cost Saving Act of 2010.” This bill is projected to save hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars every year by providing treatment to avoid preventable lymphedema-related complications. As your constituent, I urge you to sponsor an identical bill in the Senate.

[Please list your credentials (if any) and any personal experience you may have with lymphedema (if any).  Do you struggle with lymphedema?  Does your mother?  Son? Best friend?   Are you a cancer survivor?]

As you may be unfamiliar with the disease, here is a link from the Lance Armstrong Foundation that explains the condition and its treatment: http://www.livestrong.org/site/c.khLXK1PxHmF/b.2660675/k.9471/Physical_Effects_Lymphedema.htm

Lymphedema is a medical condition affecting an estimated 2 million Medicare Beneficiaries. Secondary lymphedema sometimes results from surgery and curative radiation. H.R. 4662 is projected to save hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars every year in avoidance of costs of treating preventable lymphedema-related cellulitis. This act will reduce Medicare costs while improving patient care and quality of life. It will also expand patient access to qualified lymphedema therapy by extending coverage to qualified, specially trained lymphedema therapists who may practice under a qualified physician, physical therapist or occupational therapist.

The clinically-proven treatment of lymphedema is called “complex decongestive therapy” and includes manual lymph drainage, appropriate bandaging and compression garments, specific therapeutic exercises and proper skin care. It is used world-wide by the medical community, is not experimental and has decades of proven success. Unfortunately, not all components of this treatment fall under categories for which Medicare or private insurance companies typically provide coverage. With treatment, a patient lives a long, healthy and virtually normal life. But without treatment, the disease can grow progressively worse, skyrocketing medical costs with hospitalizations and causing severe disfigurement, disability, pain, and in some cases even results in death.

Medicare has no requirement for special lymphedema training or competence on the part of the therapists treating lymphedema patients. Compression garments are a crucial part of treatment, yet insurance covers a fraction of the cost of both the garments and the treatments. Medicare does not cover the supplies and garments at all, despite a recent AHQR review that included garment use as standard treatment of this condition.

I urge you to sponsor a bill in the Senate identical to H.R. 4662, and provide parity and adequate coverage for this disease. For additional information about the House bill, please contact Zach Pfister in Congressman Kissell’s office at zach.pfister@mail.house.gov or 202-225-3715.

Thank you for your help.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)
(include your address here, even if you’re sending this by email)

 

Lymphedema Awareness Day

Eunice Mooney, a certified lymphatic therapist, demonstrates a massage technique for lymphedema on client Donna Braham. Herald photo by Angela Hill

Eunice Mooney, a certified lymphatic therapist, demonstrates a massage technique for lymphedema on client Donna Braham. Herald photo by Angela Hill.

An article written by Angela Hill for the Prince Albert Daily Herald tells us that today is Lymphedema Awareness Day in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Let’s promote awareness here as well!  Why not?

See the article at http://www.paherald.sk.ca/News/Local/2010-02-25/article-824113/Lymphedema-recognized/1.

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Arm Exercises May Cut Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors

An article published by Reuters verifies what we lymph drainage specialists have suspected all along, stating:

After a year, women who did a twice weekly workout while wearing a compression garment had less arm pain and swelling, a condition known as lymphedema.

“Weight lifting reduced the number and severity of arm and hand symptoms, increased muscular strength and reduced the incidence of lymphedema,” a team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Read more at http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE57B5RE20090812.

 

MLD Lowers Risk of Lymphedema

MedPage Today recently published an article reporting on the findings of a group of researchers in Spain. Their finding were published in the British Medical Journal this year. They found that breast cancer patients who received manual lymph drainage (MLD) after surgery had up to a 72% decreased risk of developing lymphedema!

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Massage, compression, exercise to ease lymphedema symptoms

By Linda S. Mah | Kalamazoo Gazette

November 12, 2009, 10:19AM

DELTON —

Fern Taylor, of Delton, wears a compression sleeve and glove on her right arm to help prevent buildup of lymph fluid after having lymph nodes removed from her breast.

Fern Taylor never knows when her lymphedema is going to flare up. She’ll notice a rash, then there’s a burning sensation and soon her arm swells up to three times its normal size.’

The first time it happened in 2003 “I had no idea what was going on,” said Taylor, who lives in Delton.

Since then, Taylor has learned that the swelling in her right arm is the result of a buildup of lymphatic fluid, which occurs because the lymph nodes in that arm were removed as part of her treatment for breast cancer.

“Basically, the fluids in my body went where they were supposed to go, but the lymph nodes were not there anymore to carry it through the body,” Taylor said. “So it got stuck.”

The lymphatic system drains fluid from bodily tissue and allows immune cells to travel throughout the body. Lymphedema occurs when the lymph nodes are unable to drain that fluid. The fluid pools in an area, causing the body part to swell and sometimes leading to discomfort from the pressure of the fluid buildup, a sense of heaviness, a decreased range of motion, chronic wounds and ulcers and skin breakdown.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Lymphatic Massage For Beauty Inside As Well As Out!

By Willie Jones

When a family member of mine was diagnosed with lymphoma, a large marble sized rock hard lump in the neck, it was such a shock! The difficult part after that was trying to figure out the best course of action. We have always leaned towards natural remedies and we were thankfully steered towards a naturopath that did lymphatic massage Read the rest of this entry »

 

Dealing With Lymphedema

Written by Charlotte Dovey

When Linda Parton defeated breast cancer – twice – she thought it was the end of her problems. In fact, it was just the beginning.

For, as a result of poor post-operative care, she developed lymphoedema, an incurable and hugely debilitating condition which causes painful swelling.

Linda Parton

Still in Pain: Linda Parton

Lymphoedema is caused by an impaired lymphatic system and affects 100,000 people in the UK, 25,000 of them after breast cancer surgery. The others are largely due to injury to, or infection of, the lymph vessels.

The lymphatic system clears unwanted protein and water from the tissues via the lymph vessels throughout the body. Lymphoedema occurs when the system is faulty in some way: fluid doesn’t drain from the tissue, but builds up, causing swelling or oedema.

While not all breast cancer patients develop the condition, their chances of developing it are greater because the lymph nodes are often removed during treatment, potentially damaging the lymphatic system.

The problem can be triggered by something as simple as having your blood pressure taken, which is what happened in Linda’s case. Other traumas that can set off the condition include lifting something heavy, a skin infection, a cut or insect bite.

In the early stages, the swelling – which usually affects either the arms or legs (the areas next to the armpit and groin, where glands are found) – may be slight, but over time, and if left untreated, the area may harden.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Senate Bill 3963

Written by Amber Vachon

*NOTE: This bill never became law. This bill was proposed in a previous session of Congress. Sessions of Congress last two years, and at the end of each session all proposed bills and resolutions that haven’t passed are cleared from the books.

There is a bill currently in the US Senate that will, when passed, allow for much greater access to lymphedema treatment for Medicare recipients. This is vital, especially for breast cancer survivors who have a significantly higher likelihood of developing lymphedema than the general population.

Currently, only physical therapists may provide this therapy. The new law will restore physician choice to assign care to the therapist of his or her choice. A large percentage of lymphedema therapists with advanced training (myself included) are massage therapists and nurses (LPNs and RNs). As a result, the number of qualified therapists who can provide this service under Medicare is greatly limited. With passage of this bill, patient access to quality healthcare will be greatly enhanced. Private insurance companies also tend to follow Medicare’s lead, thus better access to physical medicine for those not on Medicare should follow.

In order to ensure proper care for those who need it, we need your support. Please contact your Congressmen and women and urge them to co-sponsor this bill and vote yes to S.3963. (History has shown that the more co-sponsors a bill has, the greater the likelihood of it’s passage.) Read the rest of this entry »