Water-based exercise for patients with chronic arm lymphedema : a randomised, controlled pilot trial
Johansson, Karin, Hayes, Sandi, Speck, Rebecca M, & Schmitz, Kathryn H (2013) Water-based exercise for patients with chronic arm lymphedema : a randomised, controlled pilot trial. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. (In Press)
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Objective: To evaluate the feasibility and effect of a water-based exercise (WBE) program on lymphedema status and shoulder range of motion (ROM) among women with breast cancer related lymphedema.
Design: Single-blinded, randomized controlled pilot trial. Twenty-nine eligible breast cancer survivors (median 10 years after surgery) with arm lymphedema (median 21% inter limb difference) were included and randomized into intervention (n= 15) or control (n=14). Twenty-five participants completed the study. The intervention was at least twice weekly WBE for 8 weeks; supervised initially but performed independently during the study period. Outcomes of interest were feasibility as measured by retention and adherence, lymphedema status as measured by optoelectronic perometry, bioimpedance spectroscopy and tissue dielectric constant, and shoulder range of motion (ROM) as measured by goniometer.
Results: Four participants were not measured at post-intervention and were not included in the analysis (retention). Four participants in the intervention group did not perform the minimum WBE criteria set (adherence). No effect was found on lymphedema status. Compared to the control group, median ROM change for flexion was 6 (1-10) degrees (p<0.001) and 6 (0-15.5) degrees (p=0,07) for external rotation.
Clinically relevant increase in the intervention group was found for 36% in flexion (p≤0.05) and (57%) in external rotation (p≤0.05) compared to controls.
Conclusions: This study shows WBE is feasible for breast cancer survivors with arm lymphedema and that shoulder ROM can be improved years after cancer treatment has been completed.
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