Lymphedema Advanced & Review course at the Foeldi Clinic, Hinterzarten, Germany

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Lymphedema Advanced & Review course at the Foeldi Clinic, Hinterzarten, Germany

It is important as a Charity for the community to understand where the funds are directed. One our pillars at inception has always been Education. This is not just educating the community at large but also education for our healthcare professionals. It has been fundamental for the Charity to find the gaps and then better support the Kingdom by professional development of our nurses, doctors- the whole multidisciplinary team- as we know this better supports our patients.

Our latest endeavour was that to fund in full- Dr Ebrahim Rajab (PT PhD CLT) with his Senior Lymphedema Certification. Dr Ebrahim has supported patients for the Charity for the past few years, in kind, and in return, we were thrilled to offer him the Think Pink sponsorship via the Fund that the community raised. Continue to read to find out more about Dr Ebrahim’s trip to the Foldi Clinic in Germany:

“It had been quite a while since I had completed the basic lymphedema therapy certification course, in fact almost exactly 10 years to the date of the advanced and review course! I arrived at the world famous Foldi clinic feeling excited by the opportunity to learn the latest developments in the field of lymphedema therapy for breast cancer surgery, and at the same time feeling humbled by the support provided by Think Pink.  The weather in the black forest was splendid and it provides the most beautiful setting for the course.

There were two central themes to this year’s advanced course. The first theme was lymph node removal in gynecological oncology and breast cancer surgery by Dr Martha Foldi. What was interesting for me was the data on lymphedema risks 5 years after gynecological malignancies. In particular, the published data for breast cancer was highly variable with reports of lymphedema risk anywhere between 3.5 to more than 40% of patients. Dr Martha emphasised that lymphedema risk depended on the interaction of three variables: (i) whether the tumour was advanced and/or biologically aggressive, (ii) the presence of co-morbidities, obesity, psychological factors and underlying genetic position, as well as (iii) the treatment approaches utilised (with those that affect skin and the underlying connective tissue being of greater risk).  She discussed that importance of reducing the risk of secondary lymphedema through a combined approach including tumor prevention, early detection, screening programmes, scientific and clinical research, and reduction of therapeutic radicalness without compromising oncological safety. For individual patients at high risk, she emphasized the need to treat co-morbidities, reduce weight, encourage exercise, utilise prophylactic manual lymphatic drainage and counsel patients. The second theme was obesity, obesity associated lymphedema and lipidema by Dr Tobias Bertsch. He discussed the failure of diets to improve weight in male and female obese patients in the long term, and emphasised the new trend to instead encourage patient to stabilize (their weight) and exercise! He also explained the Foldi Clinic approach to offering patients with a body mass Index ≥40 bariatric surgery and later dermatolipectomy if necessary. There was much audience discussion about the challenges of treating obesity-related lymphedema and lipidema. The 5-day course also provided updates on the latest developments in skin care, bandaging and garment fitting, as well as case studies and treatment observations in the clinic. During these sessions we were given samples of the latest products and at the same time had the opportunity to put our practical skills to the test!

Aside from the course content this was a great opportunity for networking with fellow participants from across the world.  In particular I meet colleagues from Saudi Arabia and Turkey and we discussed solutions to common challenges we faced such as acquiring materials and equipment, as well as delivering continuity of care.

I returned to Bahrain after the course feeling more confident in my knowledge, and ready to deliver the best care I could for patients using the new skills that I had acquired. The course has definitely motivated me to further improve myself and also made me wonder whether the next breast cancer-related lymphedema course or conference could be arranged here! Thank you Think Pink!”