Pressure-reducing Leg Rest for use in Lymphoedema…

I came up with this DIY design almost  year ago, but was too ill to make it myself. Looking at it you might wonder why that should be so, as it’s very simple – the question should give you an idea of just how ill I am (plus I only recently had the idea of using the toilet frame). Even now, and I’m very much better than I was a year ago, it was exhausting just fetching the frame from the bedroom and cleaning it up (it’s not been used for years – I have another in the bathroom).

I’m supposed to elevate my legs, particularly my right one which is worse, by far, than my left, and currently sports a blossoming ulcer (my nurses tell me it’s showing signs of healing – I hope they’re right).

It has proven quite impossible to do that, as my nurses insist that I do, without inflicting severe pain on myself because it puts pressure on tissues which are already badly damaged. This design, utilising a portable toilet support  frame and neoprene camera straps, is hugely adjustable and supports my leg without putting pressure on any of the damaged areas (for now, just above my right ankle, on the outside but, in the past it has been almost the entire lower leg from toes to just below the knee).

This support works perfectly now and – just in case it all goes to hell again – it would have worked last year too as it puts no pressure on the then damaged areas. My heel rests on the far strap, the closer one goes behind my knee. If one side, which is fabric, proves slippery, it can be flipped as the other side is grippy neoprene.

This is the basic set-up (I have a third strap which I might use to keep my foot in position in case I fall asleep). It’s currently on its lowest setting.

Leg rest  For all pics, click the image to view full size, the Back button to return.

And this is the thing in use. It can be raised as needed – the legs are adjustable – and the straps can also be tightened more though they feel fine for now, at least. And, of course, more straps can be added if needed. The straps should stay in place. If not, I can run webbing straps between them but I’ve tried it out and I think they’ll be OK.

Leg rest in use

The toilet support I already had (they cost about £25), the straps cost me £2.28 each from Amazon. What Amazon don’t tell you – and they’re doing this far too often – is that they were shipped not from the UK, but from China,** which explains why they’ve taken so bloody long to get here. Still, they were cheap (in the UK good ones are £20 or so each), and enabled me to test the idea economically. Though I’d have paid more to get them sooner, had I known.

**They arrived with another order I’d also assumed was from the UK but was from Belgium.

The straps are wide enough to be comfortable, but if you’re fatter than me or – often a problem with lymphoedema – badly swollen, I’d suggest using them in pairs. Or opt for tripod straps which are designed to take more weight.

Make sure, too, that the straps are parallel – some camera and tripod straps are asymmetrical, like this one I bought for my tripod. The reason for that is the head of the tripod is much heavier than the foot, so the point of balance is closer to the head, hence the strap is wider there.



Update: I’ve added the third strap as a foot support – works very well too. It also has the advantage of locking the closest strap in position.

With foot support

There is one problem I don’t have an answer for. Whenever I elevate my leg – and this includes being in bed, where I’ve cut down a foam wedge to hold my leg in place – when I lower my leg or get out of bed, the fluid that’s drained out of it rushes back, and the pain is pure agony.

In bed I get around this by taking a dose of Oramorph half an hour before I get up. Not a perfect solution but it reduces the pain to a tolerable level (though I appreciate what’s tolerable will vary from person to person). During the day I might just have to live with it.

Or not – it has been a major disincentive to elevating my legs in the past, and might continue to be so. Time will tell.

© R. W. Graves 2014

14 thoughts on “Pressure-reducing Leg Rest for use in Lymphoedema…

  1. The reptile neglecter/abuser has been reported by me and several others to both police and arspca (useless but as it’s press they might take note) Don’t bother about publishing this. I saw they deleted your comments. Grauniad were fools to publish the piece.

      • Oh must be someone using your avatar picture, on comments on the Guardian then. Strange. This was on an article by Tim Dowling about neglecting and planning to kill his child’s pet snake.

        Now’t stranger than t’internet!

        • Ah – right,thanks – that was me. And they deleted it? There were worse things said about Dowling than that.

          • I didn’t see what you said, the mods had been swift, but Mr Dowling and his editor can’t be left in any doubt about the stupidity of publishing such an article or the crassness of boasting about abuse via neglect. They’d have been totally down on a poor person who wilfully neglected a pet! Smug middle class hypocrisy yet again! Grrr!

            • I asked Dowling if they had no vets where he lived, and said he was a dismal apology for a human being. Which I stand by. The snake thing has been going on for an absurdly long time – about a year is what it feels like.

    • Very comfy! Especially with the foot section added. Just a pity I didn’t think of using the toilet frame last year – I needed it more then.

    • Tried it last night, Sue. Totally painless and slept for hours with my leg up on it. Normally the pain of doing that would keep me awake. And today I’ve had very little pain at all, and no Oramorph.

  2. is it the fluid going back into the tissues that’s the problem when you take your leg down, or the fact it all tries to rush back at once and expand the tissues quickly?

    Wondering if maybe lowering it in stages would reduce the pain, or even something like a tourniquet slackened off very gradually might reduce this? It’d still be painful, I expect, but possibly not quite so unbearable.

    Is there a possibility of using local anaesthetic – something like a nerve block? – to help sort of circumvent the problem?

    I do like your DIY leg raiser, and I hope it’s helpful/useable. Is it just me, or does being a spoonie tend to force you to unlock your inner Heath Robinson?! certainly most of the disabled people I know have got creative with adapted equipment from time to time – god only knows why the people who design this stuff can’t do the same.

    • Unlike blood, which has its own plumbing and pump, the lymphatic circulation is uncontained so as soon as I get up, everything that’s taken all night to slowly seep away succumbs to gravity and tries to come back all at once – but the spaces it had previously created for itself have closed up and it has to force its way back in. With the inevitable result.

      Just elevating my leg for a couple of hours does the same thing, but on a less horrendous scale.

      There is no feasible complete solution – Oramorph is as good as it gets. A tourniquet wouldn’t work as there are no veins or arteries to compress (though they would be, unnecessarily), and no-one is going to come out early in the morning to give me an epidural (which has its own problems anyway, not least more pain).

      As for creative spoonies, I’m not surprised. Over the past couple of years I’ve offered this idea (I thought it would have to be built from scratch – it’s only recently I thought of using the toilet frame – and it works brilliantly), plus one for a truly universal cupholder that will fit any wheelchair regardless of the frame tube angles, and and is adjustable in any plane, to keep the cup upright (basically a simple idea, but no-one is doing it – can’t imagine why not), to anyone who can make them work. No takers. And while the cup-holder needs at least minimal workshop facilities the leg support doesn’t, which is why it’s now out there for anyone who fancies it to make their own.

  3. Well, I’m very happy with my new gadget. Rested my leg tonight for a couple of hours and slipped into a nice, pain-free snooze. Usually, in the evening, I’d wake feeling terrible – tonight, instead, I feel rested.

    More importantly, the pain I expected when I put my leg down again failed to materialise.

    If you have lymphoedema I urge you to make one of these things – you won’t regret it.

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