Managing lymphedema: Using Lymphedema Pumps
Lymphedema has no cure, but the health condition can be managed with the help of complete decongestive therapy, also known as manual lymph drainage. The procedure involves gentle massaging of the skin to stimulate the flow of the fluids. Using a lymphedema pump is a part of the therapy which helps to move the excess accumulated fluid in the limb back to the cardiovascular system. Professional therapists use the pump as a part of their services, but more importantly, the pump can be used by a patient at home if he or she is unable to go to a therapist for whatever reason.
There are two stages in the lymphedema pump treatment, namely, the preparatory phase and the drainage phase. In the preparatory stage, the lymph vessels must be prepared to receive the lymph that will be moved by the pump’s drainage action. It is very important to do this properly otherwise, the lymph will move to the surrounding tissues instead of the blood stream, causing worse complications. A professional therapist will prepare the patient by giving a gentle massage. At home, the patient is required to do a self-massage to prepare the lymph vessels to receive the fluids.
For the drainage stage, the pump setting is adjusted to a suitable pressure level. The patient the wears the garment, rests the affected limb in the proper position and activates the pump for the recommended period. The pump movement will encourage the excess lymph to move out of the affected part and into the blood stream. After the session is completed, it is necessary to wear the compression garment to ensure that the excess fluid drains into the blood stream and not into the surrounding tissue.
The Sequential Gradient Pump and the FlexiTouch Pump are two types of lymphedema pumps being used in the treatment of this condition. The Sequential Gradient pump is automated to push air sequentially into the inbuilt channels of the garment so that it imitates the natural flow of fluids from the limbs to the body trunk. If you use this kind of pump, the preparatory phase needs to be performed manually. The FlexiTouch Pump is more convenient in that both the preparatory and drainage phases are performed automatically once the settings are done. The process takes about an hour and it is essential to complete the session at one sitting.
Pneumatic pumps have been used in the treatment of lymphedema for a very long time and are quite effective in controlling the condition. A good lymphedema pump is quite expensive to purchase and may cost $5000 to $6000. However, many insurance companies approve the purchase as it comes under Durable Medical Equipment. Another option is to rent out a pump from a surgical supply store. Lymphedema pumps are a boon to patients suffering from lymphedema, particularly to those who do not have access to professional therapy. Regular use of the pump in accordance with the instructions and for the recommended period will assist in managing the problem.
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