According to recent NASA research, compression garments can help astronauts once they return to earth to prevent orthostatic intolerance (OI). Once gravity hits, many astronauts experience a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, the feeling of lightheadedness, or even like they might faint. Whether you are in space for two weeks or six months, once you return to earth your body experiences many changes, such as a lack of strength, blood volume, differences in coordination and balance, and even a struggle to walk or stand.
To help astronauts transition better back to life on earth, NASA is teaming up with BSN Medical, an international company that supplies therapeutic medical compression garments. BSN engineers are designing custom three-piece elastic gradient compression garments to protect astronauts against orthostatic intolerance (OI) symptoms, which occur when the body reacts to an upright or standing position.
It’s not just astronauts who can benefit from wearing compression garments to prevent orthostatic intolerance. Other chronic orthostatic intolerance conditions such as Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Neurally Mediated Hypotension (NMH) fall under the OI category. NMH occurs when your blood pressure is normal while sitting or laying down, but is much lower after standing or being in an upright position. POTS refers to an increased heart rate while standing, but remains normal while in a resting position. Wearing compression socks can help fight symptoms of dysautonomia and prevent the feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness after standing up.
While we have compression stockings that help manage these symptoms, this new, innovative garment designed for NASA is still in the research phase and shows a lot of promise. Check back for the latest on the development of this cool new compression garment.
Academy Award winner Kathy Bates has earned 40 wins and 68 nominations including Emmys, Golden Globes and an Oscar. Over the past year, Kathy has taken on a new project – becoming the Lymphatic Education & Research Network’s (LE&RN) National Spokesperson. After being diagnosed with ovarian and breast cancer, Kathy Bates underwent a bilateral mastectomy to remove 19 lymph nodes from her left armpit and three from right. She developed lymphedema shortly after and has to wear a compression armsleeve for the rest of her life unless a cure is found.
To help spread awareness of breast cancer and lymphedema this month, we are giving away an armsleeve each week. Check out the giveaway at the end of this post to enter for your chance to win.
Every day, Kathy connects with others suffering from lymphedema and their families by writing letters to thank them and comfort them. She has made great strides in building awareness and education. She recently spoke at a two-day NIH symposium that took place on September 29-30. Bill Repicci, Executive Director of LE&RN, believes that this conference is a turning point in the field of lymphatics.
In her speech, “Lymphedema: The Human Side,” Bates explains that she was shocked to find out that millions of people suffer from lymphatic diseases, not just breast cancer survivors. Many people are born with it or develop it later in life. With about 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions worldwide, it is surprising that most primary physicians haven’t heard of this condition. To make matters worse, many people are not even aware they have lymphedema and suffer in silence. Without treatment, lymphedema symptoms can get worse and infection may occur, which can cause serious complications.
Many doctors who are aware of lymphedema don’t understand the severity of the condition, brushing it off as a “cosmetic issue” or blame symptoms on obesity or other causes. One woman suffered for eight years before being diagnosed with stage 3 lymphedema. Another patient, Marie Apodaca, was told by her doctor that she had to lose weight. She wasn’t diagnosed until she was accidentally hit with a cardboard box on her leg, which caused a clear liquid to drain out of her leg instead of blood. After months of therapy, Marie was able to remove 35 lbs of lymph from her legs.
Managing symptoms is no walk in the park either. Finding a lymphedema therapist isn’t easy. Since there aren’t many, it can be hard to find one that’s available or is located in your area. This can result in long commutes, which can aggravate symptoms. Zalee Harris who suffers from severely swollen arms can’t get regular treatments because of a long waiting list, causing her to be in more pain.
LE&RN focuses on raising awareness and education, but even more so, encouraging people to stop hiding their condition and share their story. Kathy took the Face of Lymphedema Challenge to inspire people to find comfort by sharing stories and to know they’re not alone. Dancer Pearl-Ann Hinds developed LE and decided to choreograph a dance dedicated to lymphedema called “Hello World.” She says “If I continued to hide the reality, the power to change the legs of future generations would be lost.”
Seven-year-old Emma Detlefsen was born with lymphedema in both legs and often battles infections that cause her to be hospitalized. This inspiring seven-year-old appeared before the NY State Legislator last year and convinced lawmakers to pass a bill for research funding that had been languishing for 12 years. She was awarded with the LE&RN Youth Ambassador Award on September 19th at the 5K Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases on the Brooklyn Bridge. Kathy hopes that by bringing Emma’s message to us, it can inspire “even one of us” to accomplish her challenge and hopes you will join the fight for education and research.
Mediven Harmony Armsleeve Giveaway
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, each week we will be giving away a compression armsleeve. Every week, we will feature a different brand. This week, you can win a Mediven Harmony armsleeve in your choice of compression level, size and color. To enter, log in with your email address or Facebook information below. Then, choose how you would like to enter: You can answer a question, leave a comment about the blog post, follow us on Twitter or tweet a message. To tweet the message, click the “Tweet” button then go to your profile. Click on the timestamp on the tweet and paste the url in the box below. Click here for more help. Good luck!! Remember, you can enter once (per entry type) every day. The contest for the Mediven Harmony armsleeve ends Friday, October 16th at midnight. The winner will be announced the following Monday. Don’t forget to check back next week for our next giveaway!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, BrightLife Direct will be spreading awareness about a condition that many breast cancer survivors face after a mastectomy – lymphedema. This condition refers to mild, moderate or severe swelling (edema), and is often caused by the removal of lymph nodes during cancer treatment. Blockage in the lymphatic system results in the buildup of lymph fluid, which is why swelling occurs.
Lymphedema can develop in the legs, arms and other parts of the body. Some people are born with this condition and others develop it. Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from lymphedema. Breast cancer survivors who develop lymphedema have to wear compression garments over their arms and hand everyday to increase circulation to help manage their condition.
In addition to sharing information on lymphedema this month, we will be doing a weekly giveaway in honor of the many brave Breast Cancer survivors. See below for more information and your chance to win!
Today we want to share information and updates on the Lymphedema Treatment Act.
According to lymphedema specialist, Sue Enerson, many of her patients who are covered by Medicare are only allowed one visit after being diagnosed with lymphedema and more often than not, compression garments are not covered. The financial burden on lymphedema patients is huge. Patients often require frequent visits to doctors and lymphedema therapists to receive treatment and also to learn how to manage lymphedema at home. Patients must also purchase a supply of compression garments to wear continuously, for the rest of their lives, which comes at no small cost.
The Lymphedema Treatment Act is a federal bill that will improve insurance coverage for treatment, mandating that insurance companies provide the medical supplies to patients that are required to manage lymphedema symptoms (including compression garments, bandages, etc.). This in turn will reduce the total healthcare costs associated with lymphedema by reducing the number of complications and disabilities that result from poor treatment of lymphedema symptoms. Currently, most insurance policies including Medicare do not cover lymphedema treatment.
Seniors who suffer from lymphedema should not be punished for taking the necessary steps to treat their condition,” said Reichert. “By rectifying Medicare’s failure to cover compression garments we give seniors their best chance and real hope to fight back against this chronic disease. I am pleased to be joined by my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in this fight against lymphedema. – Congressman Reichert
On March 26, 2015, the Lymphedema Treatment Act was introduced to the current Congress, including a “Findings” section to explain the need for medical coverage. Treatment for lymphedema includes manual lymphatic drainage, wearing compression garments and Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which the bill will make the standard of care for lymphedema.
The Lymphedema Treatment Act currently has over 100 cosponsors. BrightLife Direct as well as many other compression garment companies are showing their support for the Lymphedema Treatment Act. Compression garment makers Sigvaris, Jobst, Medi, Juzo, Solaris and LympheDIVAS also support the bill.
While there is no cure for lymphedema yet, compression garments help to provide relief. Every Friday during the month of October, we will be hosting a giveaway to win the featured armsleeve of the week. To kick of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this week we are offering a Juzo Soft Compression Armsleeve. Juzo Soft is available in six different colors as well as a variety of new colors for fall and winter. Juzo Soft Armsleeves are available in three compression levels and in a variety of sizing options. Winners can choose the color, compression level and size. Don’t forget to keep checking our blog for your chance to win!
You can enter below by logging in with an email address or through Facebook and following BrightLife Direct on Twitter, answering a question, commenting on the blog post or by tweeting a message in the giveaway box below. To tweet the message, click the “Tweet” button, then go to your profile. Next, click on the timestamp on the tweet and paste the url in the box below. Click here for more help.
One of our newest brands of compression garments – Solidea – has been named as a Semi-Finalist in The Big C Competition. In its inaugural year, the Big C Competition hopes to drive and support innovations that improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families. Solidea was one of 750 companies that entered this year’s competition.
The Top 20 companies represent projects from six countries on four continents and 10 states within the U.S. When LiveSTRONG announced the competition, it said it was “open to entrepreneurs, trailblazers, technology whizzes, fashionistas, medical geeks, game changers and anyone with an audacious product, service or innovation that helps those facing cancer today.” The range of companies and products in the final 20 is truly impressive. It includes, a smart pill bottle to improve medication adherence, wireless orthopedic bras, and a web platform that helps make relocating for medical treatment less daunting, among other companies and products. The finalists are all remarkable, and we’re so excited that Solidea was included in this group. Learn more about the Top 20 and the Big C Competition here.
BrightLife Direct began carrying Solidea products one year ago and the response has been great! Over the past year, some of the best selling Solidea products have been the Ankle Socks, the Advanced MicroMassage Capris, and the Wonder Model Pantyhose. What we’d really love to highlight is the compression armsleeves which have been real game-changers for many of our lymphedema patients:
Bilateral Compression Armsleeve – While this sleeve provides 15/21 mmhg of compression, we’ve had several customers tell us that it has replaced their 20-30 mmhg or 30-40 mmhg sleeves because of the unique micromassage fabric technology.
Unilateral Compression Armsleeve – For anyone who has edema in just one arm, this is a great option. Customers love the effective massaging fabric, but also that there is no need for a silicone top band. Many armsleeve wearers have adverse reactions to a silicone band pinching into their skin or causing rashes. This sleeve comes up and over the shoulder in a truly innovative design.
We’ve written a number of blog posts on this subject, but with all of the changes taking place in the world of healthcare, thought it was time for an update.
On a positive note, Representative David G. Reichert of Washington state introduced H.R.3877, the Lymphedema Treatment Act on Jan 15th of this year. The bill would amend title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act (SSA) to cover certain lymphedema compression treatment items as durable medical equipment. The bill is currently in committee, and has nine cosponsors. Similar bills were introduced in 2010 (H.R. 4662) and in 2011 (H.R. 2499), but neither passed. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
With regard to compression stockings prescribed for edema (swelling), varicose veins, venous insufficiency, etc. nothing has changed. Following is a list, updated in July of this past year, of compression garments that are NOT covered by Medicare.