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Management of Acute and Chronic Edema and Lymphedema in an Aquatic Environment

This course describes the application of aquatic therapy as a tool in managing acute and chronic sources of edema – mechanical/ acute orthopedic, venous insufficiency, congestive heart failure, and lymphedema. By applying the principles of the physiologic impact of submersion and use of hydrostatic pressure to each unique pathology, the participant can critically apply these concepts to common conditions seen as primary or co-morbidity conditions in the clinic. Additionally, the course describes in more depth the role that aquatic therapy can play in managing lymphedema by stimulating the lymphatic system and using manual lymph drainage strategies in the water. While this is not a comprehensive lymphedema management course, there is a brief review of lymphatic flow and therapeutic activities that may be both beneficial and appropriate for maintenance strategies.


Learning Objectives


Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the physiologic impact of immersion as it relates to edema
  • Relate the pathophysiological components of traumatic edema and inflammation, venous insufficiency, congestive heart failure, and lymphedema and the responses to immersion
  • Describe how aquatic treatment strategies of manual lymph drainage, exercise, and functional activities may be applied to these conditions
  • Use current evidence to support critical thinking by the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant regarding edema/ lymphedema management in the aquatic setting
  • Apply aquatic treatment strategies in case study discussion
Note: CEU not applicable in AK, AR, CA, LA, NJ, NM, NV, OH, TX