The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), headquartered in Bethesda, Md, recently released a list of tips targeting the management of lymphedema during the summer months. “Summer is a time when people look forward to being outdoors, swimming, and traveling—all which can be difficult for someone with lymphedema,” explains Robin Newman, OTD, OTR/L, CLT, CDRS, clinical assistant professor of occupational therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and occupational therapist at NorthShore University Health System in Chicago.

Newman instructs occupational therapy practitioners to consider patients’ participation in meaningful activities or occupations in order to craft a plan to assist patients in minimizing the risk of developing or increasing their lymphedema. Newman offers several recommendations that occupational therapy practitioners can use to help, “empower individuals to successfully manage their condition and participate in the occupations they value.” 

These recommendations include instructing patients to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water; avoid salty foods which may increase swelling in affect limbs; avoid excessive exposure to the sun, keep cool by staying in air-conditioned areas when possible; wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid constricting the affected body part; wear compression garments during plane travel, frequently stop and stretch legs during car travel, and routinely wash compression garments to remove seat and sunscreen. According to Newman, lymphedema patients can also protect against straining the affected arms by using luggage with wheels or carry-on bags during travel. 

Newman adds that during outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, or biking, patients take a first aid kit and wear well-fitting shoes to avoid cuts and scrapes. To prevent pricks, cuts, or scratches when gardening, Newman recommends that patients wear gloves.

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Source: AOTA