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Journal of Phlebology and Lymphology

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Exercises using leisure resources to reduce arm lymphedema

Author(s): Edivandra Buzato, Stelamarys Barufi, Tânia Dias Guimarães, Patricia Amador Franco Brigidio,

The aim of this study was to evaluate a form of programmed exercises in the recumbent position using leisure resources. Ten female patients aged between 42 and 72 years old (mean age of 66 years) referred for an evaluation of lymphedema were enrolled in this study. Inclusion criteria were a history of treatment for cancer leading to arm edema evidenced as a difference in volume greater than 200 mL compared to the contralateral limb. Women with active infections, skin lesions or active disease were excluded from the study. Four types of exercises were selected including using a ball, a bat for arm lifting movements, flexion and extension movements of the arm and flexion and extension movements with the arm supported on a foam wedge. These exercises were performed as four 15-minute stints over one hour. All participants were supervised during activities and warned to perform few movements (maximum 10 per minute) in the supine position and to use a compression arm sleeve. Changes in volume were calculated using plethysmography before the start and after completing the exercises. The paired t-test was used for statistical analysis with an alpha error of 5% being considered acceptable (p-value < 0.05). For the group as a whole, the change in volume of the lymphedematous arms was insignificant; for seven patients the volume increased and for three it diminished. The types of exercises used in this study did not reduce the volume of lymphedematous arms.