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The Effects of Complete Decongestive Physical Therapy Treatment On Edema Reduction, Quality of Life, and Functional Ability of Persons with Upper Extremity Lymphedema

O'Neill, Jennifer MPT1; Beatus, Joseph PhD, PT2

Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: April 2006 - Volume 30 - Issue 1 - p 5–10
Research Report

Background: There is paucity of clinical data regarding the effect of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) on edema reduction, and quality of life changes that accompany the increase in lymphedema.

Purpose: The basis of our study was to investigate the effectiveness of CDP treatment on edema reduction, functional ability, quality of life, pain level, and grip strength.

Methods: Limb volumes, grip strength, pain, quality of life, and functional ability were recorded pre- and posttreatment. Data were analyzed with repeated measures ANOVA.

Results: The results of the study demonstrated statistically significant reduction in edema and pain, and an increase in mean grip strength and quality of life. No statistically significant change was noted in functional ability.

Conclusions: In a clinical sample of postmastectomy patients with axillary node dissection, CDT treatment seems to reduce edema, improve quality of life, decrease pain, and increase grip strength. These findings from a small consecutive sample should serve as an impetus for further studies.

1Regional Clinical Director of Aquacare Rehab Services, Salisbury, MD

2Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.