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Providing assistance for those living with lymphoedema


Story by Samantha Robin

Cabrini is a leader in lymphoedema treatment and during Lymphoedema Awareness Month this March we are highlighting the work of one of our principal physiotherapists in this field.

Gillian Buckley is an expert in the treatment and management of lymphoedema, having recently received accreditation as an Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) Lymphoedema Physiotherapist.

Lymphoedema is the swelling of a limb or body part and is predominantly experienced as a result of cancer treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy. Symptoms of lymphoedema include limbs or body parts that become achy or tight or have visible swelling.

It is a chronic condition and while not life-threatening it can have a significant impact on a patient’s daily activities, as it reduces function in the affected limb and impacts on mobility. Lymphoedema is treated through physical therapy.

The APA certification is awarded to select physiotherapists who have undergone a rigorous process to demonstrate their clinical experience, training and knowledge in lymphoedema management.

Ms Buckley, who has worked as a lymphoedema specialist for more than 20 years, is one of the first people in Australia to be recognised as an APA Lymphoedema Physiotherapist.

“Lymphoedema is not a well understood area and there aren’t many physiotherapists who are able to treat it,” she said.

“While lymphoedema cannot be cured, assistance from a specialist physiotherapist can help patients manage their symptoms and allow them to continue to carry out their daily activities.”

Ms Buckley said Lymphoedema Awareness Month was an opportunity to highlight the issues faced by those with the condition and encourage them to seek appropriate treatment.

“Quite often it is dismissed as just a bit of swelling but it is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life,” she said.

“It is important to raise the profile of lymphoedema and recognise the people who are able to adequately treat and manage symptoms.”

Ms Buckley said Cabrini offered lymphoedema treatment as part of its cancer services.

“Cabrini is at the forefront of lymphoedema treatment and we offer a screening program to any patients who have had surgery or radiation to their lymph nodes and are at risk of developing the condition,” she said.

“We want to help people manage their symptoms so they can have the best quality of life possible.”

Learn more about our Cabrini’s cancer services.