Many people with lymphoedema report difficulties accessing appropriate assessment and treatment, particularly over the long term. This may be because local services are unavailable, or because travel to services is difficult or inconvenient. Incorporating a multi-disciplinary telerehabilitation service into current models of care for people with lymphoedema may have a number of benefits, including enabling early diagnosis, improved long-term management, and supporting patients to more effectively self-manage their condition. While this may be particularly helpful for those living in rural and remote areas, it could also assist those who work full-time or have caring responsibilities, have difficulty driving, and/or have been unable to find a local appropriately trained lymphoedema therapist.
We will discuss recent advances in telerehabilitation research and service delivery, and introduce the eHAB telerehabilitation system. eHAB is an internet-based videoconferencing system that enables remote consultations between health professionals and patients. Previous research has validated the use of eHAB for assessing physical outcomes including range of movement, muscular strength testing and functional task evaluation. The system has been shown to be valid and reliable in assessments of stroke patients, as well as those with Parkinson’s disease. We will demonstrate how the eHAB system can be used to conduct assessments of lymphoedema to aid early diagnosis, and improve long-term management. In particular, we propose that health professionals could use eHAB to measure patients for compression garments, assess the fit of compression, assess limb function and range of movement, teach and observe exercises, demonstrate self-massage techniques, and to provide patient education.