Denise Hardy – Nurse Consultant (KLC)
Kendal Lymphology Centre (KLC) has been using the LymphaTouch device for approximately eight years – probably one of the first Lymphoedema clinics in the country to use it for such patients.
The team from Finland initially came to share their experience with us and we soon realised the potential it could have in treating patients that we see on a daily basis.
The rationale behind its use is similar to that of Kinesio taping whereby the tissues are gently lifted to allow the lymphatic fluid to flow more freely through congested areas. It is a comfortable treatment involving the application of a suction cup (of various sizes, dependant on the area to be treated) which is attached to an electrical device calibrated to deliver various levels of suction dependant on the patient and underlying problem.
INDICATIONS FOR TREATMENT
KLC sees patients with chronic oedema of all pathologies. Although reduction of the oedema (both acute and chronic) is a one of the goals of treatment, we try and address other problems associated with the underlying condition such as reduced range of limb function/movement, pain management, and problems with scars and scar tissue.
The LymphaTouch can prove helpful with all these problems – and as such is now used (when necessary) as part of the intensive treatment phase – Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy (DLT).
No specific preparation is required to use the device, but generally it is utilised before manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is performed (if appropriate).
KLC has found it particularly helpful for the following:
- Patients with scars that seem to restrict lymphatic drainage (e.g. breast cancer, head/neck cancer, gynae and malignant melanoma scars – as well as those who have had joint replacements (knee/hip). The gentle suction releases the congestion around the scar tissue and allows a better flow of lymph in and around the affected area thereby reducing the oedema. By releasing the tight scars, improved limb movement is also achieved – further enhancing lymphatic drainage
- Breast oedema (more common than arm oedema in recent times) responds well to LymphaTouch and positive results can be demonstrated afterwards using the moisture meter
- Cording – using the device with minimal suction around the origin of the cording helps to release the tightness and results in more freedom of movement and reduced pain/discomfort
- Fibrosis – the ‘lift and twist’ technique can really help to soften fibrotic areas – particularly around the digits of those with Primary Lymphoedema – or firmer tissues of the dorsal areas of the hands/feet
BENEFITS OF USE
Besides the obvious patient benefits, using the device has been helpful to reduce the amount of time we need to spend on MLD – releasing the scar tissue for example really helps to allow the lymph to flow more freely and therefore, we spend less time having to do it! Limb function and movement improve almost immediately, and patients comment frequently on how much ‘better’ they feel following the treatment. Pain and discomfort are often reduced – and this helps our patients psychologically too.
Contraindications include those with acute deep vein thrombosis, cellulitis and acute cardiac failure. Caution is taken in those with active cancer.
Of all the equipment at our disposal these days, the LymphaTouch is certainly one of the favourites at KLC. Used within the conservative management programme – it can make a huge difference in achieving positive outcomes of treatment.
As self-management is vital to ensure results of treatment are maintained and optimised we now build on the use of the LymphaTouch by suggesting our patients purchase a small cosmetic “suction cup” to mimic the movements that we do in particularly problematic areas. For example, those with extremely fibrotic areas are shown how to use these small cups so that treatment can continue in the home setting.
Sadly, Lymphoedema funding is extremely limited and therefore giving patients ideas and advice and helpful hints and tips to manage their own Lymphoedema can help dramatically, and knowing that the LymphaTouch has helped them, they are more than happy to continue doing it on their own in the comfort of their own home.