Lymphoedema is a chronic condition that causes incurable swelling usually in the limbs, but it can affect any part of the body. It can be a disabling condition which affects a person’s ability to function on a daily basis and can affect their quality of life with many suffers voicing problems with self-esteem and social relationships.
Currently there is no cure for lymphoedema, so treatment is based on life-long management, but for some patients, standard compression therapy in the form of hosiery or bandaging, worn daily, can be difficult to apply and tolerate.
I tested a new portable intermittent pneumatic compression device (IPC) device which is designed to mimic the Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) technique, a massage technique which is typically administered by a trained therapist.
My findings showed the addition of IPC led to a significant reduction in leg volume and improvements in quality-of-life scores when used alongside their typical treatment compared to standard compression alone. The easy-to-use home device also gave patients greater control over the management of their condition.
Another element of the research was to investigate levels of awareness among primary health care professionals. I found that lymphoedema is still under recognised and under-represented, despite its growing prevalence and its effect on patients. I hope my recommendations lead to increased awareness and focus on lymphoedema, and that my research adds to the evidence base of ways in which lymphoedema management can evolve in order to minimise the suffering of those with the condition.
I really enjoyed my undergraduate degree at USW so I was thankful to continue my education here. Doing a PhD straight from a degree was a big learning curve but the support and guidance I had from my supervisors and my fellow postgraduate research students was amazing!
I really valued the opportunity to be able to see health care from this perspective having previously only gained insight from the NHS and patient point of view.
I am fortunate enough to say I am now employed with Huntleigh as a clinical support associate, and I'm certain I would not be in this position without my PhD from USW, the KESS programme and the help and support from my supervisors.