Louise has over 20 years experience as a physiotherapist & is a partner at the Killens Reid Physiotherapy Clinic.
Mary has practiced over 25 years as a registered nurse.
Both Louise and Mary are actively involved in the paddling community and have helped with breast cancer survivor dragonboat teams 'Busting Out' and 'Les 20 Coeurs' and are competitive paddlers themselves. Their team, the Cascades Women, medaled at the 2006, 2008 & 2012 World Club Crew Dragonboat Championships and won Canadian Nationals in their division in 2011.
Click here to see the Thank You from the Busting Out Team following their very successful Training Camp lead by Louise Killens, Mary Hutton & the Cascades Women Dragon Boat team.
What is lymphedema?
Lymphedema is abnormal swelling of the tissues caused by stagnant, protein rich lymph. This condition occurs when the lymphatic system has been impaired.
- Primary lymphedema is an inherited disorder resulting from missing or abnormal lymphatic vessels that cause swelling, usually in distal regions of the limbs such as the hands or feet.
- Secondary lymphedema occurs when lymphatic vessels are altered as the result of surgical intervention or radiation treatment or trauma.
What is the role of the lymphatic system?
The human body has a network of lymph nodes and vessels that carry and remove lymphatic fluid the same way blood vessels circulate blood to all parts of the body. The lymph nodes serve as filters for harmful substances and help fight infection.
If the lymph nodes are not functioning normally, harmful fluid can accumulate. Nutrients cannot effectively reach tissue, such as skin causing a buildup of waste products. The resulting lymphedema can lead to discolorations and changes in the skin, hardening of the tissues, infections, and can limit function or mobility.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Full sensation in the limb or affected area
- Decreased flexibility
Early recognition of lymphedema is essential as advanced lymphedema is more difficult to control. When treatment is begun early, patients can enjoy lives with few complications and little or no lifestyle restrictions. Thus limb girth must be monitored and symptoms recognized.
- Restoring function of the body part affected, improving range of motion and strength
- Education on skin care
- Manual lymphatic drainage – a specialized form of gentle massage that stimulates and directs lymphatic flow towards adjacent, functioning lymph systems
- Compressive therapy – the application of compression to the affected area aids in reducing edema and assists in the removal of lymph fluid
- Exercise therapy is a key component in stimulating venous and lymphatic flow. Exercises are aimed at augmenting muscular contraction, enhancing joint mobility, strengthening the limb and reducing the muscle atrophy that frequently occurs with lymphedema.
- Lymphedema can occur immediately postoperatively, within a few months, or years after cancer therapy. With proper education and care, lymphedema can be avoided or, if it develops, kept under control.