Make a slider to don compression sleeves for lymphedema management
By Leda Raptis, April 2018
Compression therapy is central to lymphedema management. However, putting a compression garment on can be difficult.
This may lead to poor adherence to treatment, which is likely to negate any benefit achieved via months of laborious bandaging. If you need to put any pads or foam pieces under the sleeve to apply pressure to specific points, putting the sleeve on becomes impossible. On top of it, as the sleeves are very tight, the slightest scratch (eg with a nail) as you fight with them to put them on can lead to a nasty infection (cellulitis)!
The solution to these is a slider.
A slider is a tube made out of slippery cloth such as nylon. It goes on your arm first, followed by the compression garment, and is then removed.
Sliders are commercially available and can be purchased over the web (lymphedemaproducts.com) or from your local fitter. But these sliders can be expensive (~$40) and you often need more than one. I have five, one in each pocket. A cheaper alternative is to sew one yourself. Here are some simple instructions on how to make an arm slider.
- Nylon cloth (1.2m is enough for 3 sliders), as used for the outer shell of windbreaker coats, or “nylon taffeta”, or spinaker-sail cloth. The advantage of the latter is that it does not fray, which makes it easier to sew, since it does not need hemming.
- Thread, in matching color
- Paper, ~1.1 in length (newspaper is OK, or you can tape pieces together)
- Sewing machine
Cutting Instructions Figure 2
- Using the ruler and pen, draw the pattern in Figure 2A on a sheet of newspaper; then cut out the shape.
- Test the nylon to find out which direction is most slippery. Wet the thumb and index fingers, pinch the cloth and slide back and forth in one direction, then at a 90 degree angle. Most materials are more slippery in one direction than the other. It is important to sew the cloth so as to take advantage of its most slippery direction. Usually it is along the length of the bolt, that is you need to buy 1.2m, not 0.5 meters as it would be in the case that the slippery direction was across the cloth. The width is usually 1.5m, so that you can make 3 sliders with the 1.2m (Fig. 1). Spinnaker-cloth is equally slippery in both directions. You can get it from sail-makers.
- Spread the material on a cutting table so that the most slippery direction is lengthwise as shown by the arrow (Figure 2A). Pin the pattern on top.
- Cut out the shape shown in Figure 2A. The size shown fits most arms but it can be made bigger if necessary.
- Cut a strip of 34x5cm and a strip of 30x6cm for the stirrup (Figure 2B).
- Fold along the dotted lines (see Figure 2A), placing the two less slippery sides together, and sew the three sides (b,c,d) in straight stitch; then hem in zig-zag.
- Turn the tube inside out and sew the three sides (b,c,d) with a straight stitch at 2mm from the edge.
- Fold the edges of the strips and sew to make sturdy strips of 34×1.5cm and 30x2cm.
- Sew the 34cm strip (e) along the wider end of the slider (a). Then insert the 30cm strip (f) as shown, fold (e) over it and sew it to the 34cm strip. Do several passes to ensure strength.
Using the Slider
- Fold the narrower end of the slider (c,d) inside the wider one as shown in Figure 2C.
- Pass the arm inside.
- Pull the compression sleeve on top of the slider. It should slide easily.
- Remove the slider: Hold the sleeve and pull from the stirrup, by passing a door handle or the foot through the loop.
- Whole Sleeve
- Stitching the Stirrup
- Slider Folded
- Slider on Arm
- Sleeve Over Slider
- Hold Sleeve and Pull Slider
- Pull Slider with Foot More
- Pulling Slider with Foot
- Taking Slider Out
- Whole Sleeve