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PHYSICAL MEDICINE IN MANAGEMENT OF PATIENTS WITH POSTMASTECTOMY LYMPHEDEMA

G. Keith Stillwell, M.D., Ph.D.
JAMA. 1959;171(17):2285-2291. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010350007002.
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Lymphedema affecting the upper extremity after radical operations on the breast was studied in 220 patients. Limb volumes measured by displacement of water made it possible to assess the results of treatment. The treatment program here described consisted of a period of some days in a department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, followed by a period of home treatment which was usually prolonged. During the first period manual and mechanical massage were used, in addition to isometric exercises and spiral bandaging. During the second period the patient carried out certain instructions, especially involving exercise, bandaging, and elevation of the extremity. The results were sometimes only palliative, but the objective data as well as the reactions of the patients show that this program generally reduced the discomfort and disability caused by the lymphedema.

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