Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 48 Number 10, 2011
   Pages 1261 — 1268

Abstract — Effect of home-based exercise program on lymphedema and quality of life in female postmastectomy patients: Pre-post intervention study

Ajay P. Gautam, MPT;1–2* Arun G. Maiya, PhD, MPT;1 Mamidipudi S. Vidyasagar, MD, DMRT2

1Manipal College of Allied Health Sciences, Department of Physiotherapy, and 2Kasturba Medical College, Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Manipal University, Manipal, India
Abstract—Lymphedema is a debilitating complication following mastectomy, affecting the arm functions and quality of life (QOL) of breast cancer patients. Studies have shown the beneficial effects of upper-limb exercises on lymphedema in clinical settings. However, there is a dearth of evidence regarding the effect of home-based exercises on lymphedema; therefore, we examined the effect of a home-based exercise program on lymphedema and QOL in postmastectomy patients. Thirty-two female postmastectomy lymphedema patients participated in an individualized home-based exercise program for 8 weeks. Arm circumference, arm volume, and QOL (36-Item Short Form Health Survey) were measured before and after the program. Data were analyzed with the use of paired t-tests for circumferential and volumetric measures and Wilcoxon signed ranks tests for QOL. Significance level was set at p < 0.01 with Bonferroni correction (alpha/n = 0.05/5 = 0.01). Analysis showed a statistically significant improvement in the affected upper-limb circumference and volume (~122 mL reduction, p < 0.001) and in the QOL scores (p < 0.001) at the end of the home-based exercise program. The individualized home-based exercise program led to improvement in affected upper-limb volume and circumference and QOL of postmastectomy lymphedema patients.
Key words: breast cancer, home-based exercise program, mastectomy, physiotherapy, postmastectomy lymphedema, progressive resistance exercise, quality of life, rehabilitation, upper-limb exercise, Wilcoxon signed rank test.

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