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By Pamela O’Connor, Remedial Massage Therapist

Lorna at ALA conferenceIt is not easy living with Lymphoedema. It is a complex condition to understand, and learning how to manage this condition for which there is no cure can be a complicated journey that is individual for each person.

To help ride the swell of this individual journey, it takes teamwork – and the stronger the team the better.

This “Stronger Together” message of the Australasian Lymphology Association conference last week was delivered loud and clear,with a large crowd of Lymphoedema-related practitioners plus patients learningand networking with each other on a dazzling array of topics.

The three-day conference for lymphoedema practitioners held at the Brisbane Convention Centrealso incorporated a Public Day,hosted by the Lymphoedema Association of Queensland, for people living with the condition, their carers and anyone wanting to know more about this little knowncondition that affects around 300,000 Australians every day.

Both myself and Lorna Golombick (senior Physiotherapist and Lymphoedema practitioner) attended the conference. It was a first-time experience for me and it was made all the more interesting because I was able to experience it from both perspectives – as a Lymphoedema practitioner (in training) as well as a person living with Lymphoedema.

As a practitioner I heard from an impressive international line-up of speakers on topics such as the latest on indocyanine green and near infrared lymphatic imaging and other exciting advances in technology and research, as well as practical considerations and communicating empathically with clients in a clinic setting.

For the patient or the general public, the Public Day delivered a well-rounded program covering the basics of how the lymphatic system works; the assessment and treatment of Lymphoedema in a whirlwind talk from Professor Neil Piller; exercise for Lymphoedema and fatigue; self-care; nutrition, skin and wound care; lipoedema; and stories from patientsthemselves.

The exhibitors’ trade displays was a wonderful chance for both practitioners and patients to get hands-on with all the latest in technology, products, compression and garments. I had fun measuring up one of the Sigvaris staff member’s legs for Velcro compression wraps, got touchy feely with compression stockings in all sorts of trendy colours and wild patterns, slathered myself with the natural skin care range from Dr Plunkett, and watched other people undergoing L-Dex readings or having a limb hooked up to compression wave pump machines.

Armed with this heady mix of knowledge it makes it a little easier to work out how to make my team stronger to ride out this bumpy journey – and to help others to do the same.

I look forward to sharing some of the useful information I have learnt from the conference in my blog articles in the coming weeks.

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