Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Jan Stube


Lymphedema -- therapy


Problem: Lymphedema is a collection of excess water, interstitial fluid, plasma proteins, bacteria, and cellular waste products in the interstitial tissues as a result of an impaired lymphatic system due to disease or trauma (Cheville, McGarvey, Petrek, Russo, Taylor, & Thiadens, 2003). This fluid typically collects in a person's upper and/or lower extremities. Lymphedema is a chronic condition and can be progressive if not managed properly. Lymphedema may result in significant impairments to the person, which results in functional limitations and a decrease in quality of life (Konecne & Perdoma, 2004). Treatment of lymphedema can be costly, timely, and overwhelming for many patients. Patients' occupations are often impacted and compliancy with recommended treatment techniques is a significant indicator of successful outcomes. Methodology: An extensive literature review is completed to investigate alternative treatment strategies for lymphedema management. The author of a textbook was contacted and gave his permission for material usage within this scholarly project (see Appendix A). The professional clinical experience of the author as a certified lymphedema therapist and occupational therapist provided additional perspective on the management of lymphedema. The Canadian Model of Occupational Performance (Fearing, Law & Clark, 1997) is the theoretical basis for this scholarly project. Findings and Product: A comprehensive lymphedema program is developed to provide an individualized approach for the prevention and management of lymphedema for patients seen by occupational therapists in medical and/or community settings. The product encompasses three phases of lymphedema management. Part I is for the client diagnosed with lymphedema and includes occupational-based evaluation, treatment and follow through with managing this complex condition with as minimal impact on the client's daily roles and routines. Part II is a PowerPoint® presentation for the education and training of other health care professionals on lymphedema. Part III is a tertiary, preventive program to educate clients at risk for developing lymphedema. Overall, the comprehensive lymphedema program will attempt to minimize the impact of lymphedema on clients' meaningful occupations for improved physical and psychosocial well-being.