Date of Award


Document Type

Critically Appraised Topic


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne Haskins

Second Advisor

Breann Lamborn

Third Advisor

Gail Bass/Devon Olson Lambert


The National Cancer Institute (2019) explains that lymphedema is a condition where there is a buildup of fluid in soft tissues as a result of the lymphatic system being damaged or blocked. Lymphedema is estimated to impact 2 to 3 million people in the United States, with secondary lymphedema being the most common form (Rockson & Rivera, 2008). Prevalence rates for lymphedema are likely underestimated, as not all patients have received treatment for their condition (Rockson & Rivera, 2008). Secondary lymphedema occurs when the lymph system is damaged or blocked from cancer, infection, injury, removal of lymph nodes, radiation, or surgery (NCI, 2019). The risk of obtaining secondary lymphedema increases when surgery or radiation therapy becomes more aggressive and/or anatomically disruptive (Vojáčková, Fialová, & Hercogová, 2012). “Many factors have been studied with regard to lymphedema risk: obesity, weight gain, venous insufficiency, and recurrent soft tissue infections” (Vojáčková et al., 2012, p. 353). Unfortunately, the growth of obesity is expected to increase the prevalence of individuals with secondary lymphedema (Vojáčková et al., 2012).