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NLN Review

This review by Nicole L. Gergich MPT, CLT-LANA was published in Lymph Link, the official publication of the National Lymphedema Network, Vol 17, NO 4 Oct-Dec 2005, pages 30-31.


"Often in the field of lymphedema we are beset with seeking out new information. Learning what is new in terms of the treatment and management of lymphedema sometimes comes in the form of reviewing what we already know from a different perspective. The new book offers exactly that. The information provided is an excellent overview of living with and managing lymphedema from a day-to-day perspective of those living with the condition. It is likely the most inclusive and concise text dedicated to patient-centered education on lymphedema that the field has seen to date. This text can serve almost as a reference manual for the lay-person seeking practical information about lymphedema because of its exceptionally easy-to-use format.

What I found “new” and enlightening about the book was the organization of the text. “Living Well With Lymphedema” contains extensive information on a wide array of topics and is incredibly easy to use and to understand. The reader will be relieved to find the bullet-point organization of the book a straightforward way to search for information without having to peruse pages of full text in search of the answer to their question. Although the topics within the book are numerous, the authors offer a simple road map plan to approach the book depending on the perspective of the reader.

"Section I 'How to Use This Book,' leads the reader to specific areas of the text which are more relevant to their individual situation. It differentiates between those 'at risk' for lymphedema, those newly diagnosed with lymphedema, as well as family members, care givers and friends.

"The early sections give an easy-to-understand overview of what lymphedema is, how it is diagnosed and what the current treatment interventions include. Most educational information on lymphedema contains similar information, but again, it is the design of the text that makes this information so easy to use. The paragraphs are short and concise and give an excellent overview of the condition.

"The most practical information for people living with lymphedema comes in Chapters 4-8. Here the authors’ address what the health care providers often miss in educating their patients about how to live with lymphedema. This section offers information on how one should go about finding quality lymphedema treatment. A list of screening questions is provided for use when calling a treatment center to determine the qualifications of the therapists treating lymphedema. Concise information on insurance and reimbursement issues is given. The authors’ even give a checklist for use in writing a letter of appeal for denied insurance claims. These chapters are a wealth of information that is vital to successful self- management of lymphedema as it empowers those living with the condition to take control over their health care.

"Also offered is information regarding complications that may arise with lymphedema including cellulitic infections, fungal infections and orthopedic complications. The text presents basic information for self-screening and an enhanced understanding of these common conditions. One section gives a very simple overview of the difference between athlete’s foot, toe nail fungus and cellulites along with appropriate advice for how to handle these conditions. It is an incredibly useful educational tool!

“Living Well with Lymphedema” offers an exceptional chapter on handling the emotional challenges that arise with lymphedema. I was impressed with and most thankful for the authors’ validation of the emotional struggles that people face in dealing with this condition. The text looks at a variety of emotional reactions and recognizes and discusses each of them as a normal part of the coping process. From anxiety and overwhelm to self-consciousness and even sadness; the first step that each section deals with is the fact that these emotions are a normal part of coping with this condition. The section goes as far as discussing warning signs that may indicate when it is necessary to seek professional assistance for an emotional problem.

Fully eight chapters at the end of the book are dedicated to lymphedema self-management. Guidance is given to help enhance compliance and set the foundation for successful outcomes. There is a strong focus on the patient being at the center of guiding their own care and being responsible for managing their condition. These chapters not only emphasize that focus, but give the reader tangible steps that they can take to empower themselves to be in control of their lymphedematous limb.

"The chapter on self-MLD contains detailed instructions along with pictures to assure correct technique. Ideas for an exercise program are outlined along with practical guidance for those people interested in participating in sporting activities. The emphasis is towards pursing activity while using practical advice to protect the affected limb. Information is lacking somewhat to guide those “at risk” for lymphedema in their pursuit of an exercise program. The exercise section includes information on protecting the lymphedematous limb during exercise and even advocates for an aquatic based exercise program giving guidelines for safe water exercise.

"Overall, “Living Well With Lymphedema” offers its readers advice that is well-qualified and most importantly, practical. The book refers frequently to letters that have been submitted to the Lymphnotes.com website outlining true-life stories and complications that readers will be able to relate to and appreciate.

"The concise nature of the book and the lay-out of the text make it an exceptional choice as a resource for people seeking lymphedema related information.

"Those who will benefit the most from this new resource include: people living with lymphedema, both those newly diagnosed and veterans of the condition; family and friends of those with lymphedema seeking further information about the condition; and health care providers who require a concise resource on lymphedema management."


Nicole L. Gergich MPT, CLT-LANA, is with the National Naval Medical Center, Breast Care Center.


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Got a question or comment? Post it in the Living Well With Lymphedema, the book forum.

Publication: Living Well With Lymphedema
Updated: 2010-11-02


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