Sock it to Lymphoedema

03/03/2021

As part of Lymphoedema Awareness Week (1-6th March 2021) our Lymphoedema Service are encouraging staff members throughout the Trust to wear odd socks to “sock it to Lymphoedema” to raise awareness of the condition.

Patient, Family members and local schools have got involved with raising awareness this year by encouraging pupils to watch a short video on the condition and design their own pair of odd socks. To mark the occasion local district councils have lit up local buildings blue.

Lymphoedema affects 240,000 men, women and children in the UK. Within the Western Trust there are currently over 2,000 patients known to the Lymphoedema Service and yet it is still not a widely recognized condition.

The Lymphoedema Service in the Western Trust was set up in 2010. The team is located throughout the Western Trust area with outpatient clinics in Altnagelvin Hospital, Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex and South West Acute Hospital. The treatment provided by the Lymphoedema Service includes advice, skincare, exercise, specific massage techniques to encourage lymphatic drainage and the use of compression bandaging or garments.

Patients with lymphoedema are more susceptible to infection known as cellulitis and it is very important for this to be treated promptly. Every episode of cellulitis is felt to impact on the lymphatic system further.

Commenting on the condition Jill Hamilton, Western Trust Clinical Lead for Lymphoedema, explains: “Lymphoedema is a chronic long term condition which can have a significant impact on patients both physically and psychosocially. Awareness of the condition within Northern Ireland and within the Western Trust locality has improved over the last number of years as evidenced by the growing demand on the service.”

She continued: “Raising awareness of the condition has been embedded into the Lymphoedema Network Northern Ireland work plan for the last 11 years and continues to be something we work on within our own Trust area. Early detection and early referral to the service can lead to a better outcome for patients, in the long term, by providing the necessary skills to be able to self-manage their condition.”

This year staff within the Lymphoedema Team and some families are planning to take part in the global virtual run / walk to fight lymphatic diseases hosted by LE&RN on the 17th April. Exercise is a key component of lymphoedema management and we are encouraging as many patients / family members to take part as possible. Two of our patients have been selected as Courage Awardees at this upcoming event and we couldn’t be more proud to support them by taking part as they continue to inspire other children and families dealing with lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema can affect people very differently and it is important to complete an appropriate assessment to ensure patients are managed appropriately.

For more information regarding Lymphoedema and related services contact: 028 8283 3134 email: lymphoedema.service@westerntrust.hscni.net