Katz, E., Dugan, N.L., Cohn, J.C., Chu, C., Smith, R.G., & Schmitz, K.H. (2010). Weight lifting in patients with lower-extremity lymphedema secondary to cancer: A pilot and feasibility study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 91(7), 1070–1076.10.1016/j.apmr.2010.03.021
To assess the feasibility of recruiting and retaining cancer survivors with lower-extremity lymphedema in an exercise intervention study and to determine preliminary estimates of the safety and efficacy of the intervention
Patients participated in slow, progressive weight lifting two times weekly, supervised for two months, then unsupervised for three months. Participants were instructed in warm-up, stretching, breathing, weight training and additional stretching exercises by a certified fitness professional. Exercises were performed using variable resistance machines, free weights, and ankle weights.
The study has clinical applicability for late effects and survivorship.
The study used a pre-post design with no control.
All but one person attended at least 81% of supervised sessions. Five patients did not complete the study because of cellulitis that occurred early in the study, progression of cancer, and inconvenience. There were no significant differences in lower-limb volume. Strength increased and the six-minute walk increased.
The study was too small to draw any conclusions, and the number of drop outs for various reasons makes the feasibility of this approach for patients with lower-limb lymphedema questionable.
The sample size was small, with less than 30 participants.
The study is one of few that begins to address lower-limb lymphedema. Further study on the safety and potential benefits of exercise and weight training for this condition are needed.