Water-Based Exercise for Patients with Chronic Arm Lymphedema: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and effect of a water-based exercise program on lymphedema status and shoulder range of motion among women with breast cancer-related lymphedema. DESIGN: This was a single-blinded, randomized controlled pilot trial. Twenty-nine eligible breast cancer survivors (median, 10 yrs after surgery) with arm lymphedema (median, 21% interlimb difference) were included and randomized into the intervention (n = 15) or control (n = 14) group. Twenty-five participants completed the study. The intervention was at least twice-weekly water-based exercise for 8 wks, initially supervised 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 as measured by goniometer. RESULTS: Four participants were not measured at postintervention and were not included in the analysis (retention). Four participants in the intervention group did not perform the minimum water-based exercise criteria set (adherence). No effect was found on lymphedema status. Compared with the control group, median range of motion change for flexion was 6 (1-10) degrees (P < 0.001) and 6 (0-15.5) degrees (P = 0.07) for external rotation.A 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 with controls. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that water-based exercise is feasible for breast cancer survivors with arm lymphedema and that shoulder range of motion can be improved years after cancer treatment has been completed.

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  • Physiotherapy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-319
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Volume92
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes