Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling of a particular part of the body which involves the accumulation of excess fluids due to a faulty or damaged lymphatic system. Globally, the disease affects 140 to 250 million individuals and is caused due to primary (genetic mutation) and secondary factors (post cancer treatment). People suffering with secondary lymphedema are more common, as those who undergo cancer treatment usually have their lymph nodes removed, thereby increasing their chances of developing lymphedema.
The workshop provided a 360 degree overview of the disease involving:
- Risk factors and symptoms of the disease
- Treatment options for the disease
- Patient demonstrations to help those present acquire a better understanding of the disease and self-management
- Sessions on how to take care of oneself through exercise and other methods.
Addressing the audience, Ms. Michele Coxon, Certified Lymphedema Therapist from USA stated, “I believe the most important part of living with a disease like this is to understand the extent of what one is suffering from. It may look like just a swelling of the hand or leg but essentially, it is toxic fluid that is circulating in one’s body that is affecting the entire system. Through this workshop at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, my goal is to reach as many people as I can to share the importance and use of therapy to help people live a normal life.”
Today, there is an increased awareness among the medical fraternity who play a major role in safeguarding patients from lymphedema. At P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, patients are given a chance to mentally and physically prepare themselves. Those who are most susceptible, are counselled and informed in advance that they might develop lymphedema. Further, they are sent to a lymphedema therapist to learn the necessary exercises involved and the precautionary steps they can take, if and when symptoms arise.
At the workshop Dr. Sanjay Agarwala, Director – Professional Services, P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC said, “Presently the disease does not have a cure and the number of hospitals and clinics that have therapists to help people suffering with this disease are extremely minimal. We organized this initiative to reach out to people, empower them and give them a chance to have a better quality of life.”
The disease is overlooked globally, underdiagnosed and undertreated, however, early detection, along with diligent care, compression treatments and physical therapy can help in better management and reduction of swelling and discomfort.