Compression garments are needed daily to manage Lymphedema. A common reason for edema to return is because it is too difficult to put the stockings on. We have tried a variety of devices that are available. We have many of these for our clients to try so you can decide what will work for you. Most of theese tools can be found through various dealers and suppliers online. We can guide you in the decision based on ours and our clients experience.
Putting the stocking on
1. Gloves - increase grip and friction
The first and best tool is simply a pair of gloves with rubber or latex grip. The gloves will protect the garments from fingernails and will provide good grip for rubbing the garments on.
2. Slippie systems - decrease friction against the skin.
The Arion Easy Slide Caran for closed toe stockings works great combined with gloves. It can be a little confusing at first but if you take the time to learn the technique it can be a breeze. This is the product I choose when I am assisting someone with putting on compression stockings. This video shows how it works.
Open toe stockings are easier to apply because the slippie can be pulled out by the toes. There are a variety of slippie systems in different materials. Sometimes a slippie will be included with your open toe stockings. Take the time to learn how to use it. It is well worth it.
Slippie systems work great when you can reach your feet or when a caregiver assists with putting stockings on. Obviously they do not help if one can not reach the feet.
3. Lubricants - decrease friction against the skin
Lubricants work well together with gloves and/or a slippie system for further decrease of friction. The slippie systems only reaches the foot and ankle so the lotion is a good alternative if it is difficult to get the stocking the rest of the way up the calf, knee and thigh. It may seem expensive for such a small bottle but it only takes a few drops per application since the lotion does not absorb in the skin. I have tried ALPS fitting lotion and it works well.
4. Floor pad - increase friction on the floor for rubbing
For additional help with rubbing the stockings on you can put a rubber mat on the floor and rub your foot against it. Juzo has a Easy Pad for this purpose that works well but I have patients that have used bathtub mats or rubber shelve lining material.
5. Donning frames - Step into the stocking
When it is difficult to reach, or when the slippie system alone does not work, a frame may work well. There are a variety of frames in different brands. Some are wider for the calf, some are angled backwards and some have longer handles. This is sometimes the first method we try. Sometimes it is used together with some of the devices mentioned above. Here is a video that explains the use. The Jobst stocking donner is available here.
6. The Steve - all in one
This is a tool that we found in the Netherlands and have tried. It is more costly but in our opinion the best because of its long and sturdy handle that limits the need to reach low and because it also works for removing the garments. Unfortunately this tool has only been available in Europe. After waiting a couple of years for someone to begin distributing this product in USA we have decided to import a few to make them available. We have a few and they are available to order here. You can also find mor information about this unik device at www.steveyoursupport.com
Update 5/3/11: The Steve is now available and will be priced at $189 + shipping. (Tax will apply for NC). Please contact us by clicking contact on the home page.
Removing the stockings
1. Dressing stick
Sometimes all it takes to give the last push off the foot is a traditional dressing stick. They can be found at most medical supply stores. It has a rubber coated down turned hook that can be used to get the last of the stocking over the heel. This does require some arm and hand strength and does not always work. We have tried other tools designed for removing stockings with the same idea but none has worked very well.
2. Decrease friction
So far the only product we have found for removing stockings by decreasing friction is the Easy Off by Arion. Same maker as the Easy Slide Caran (see above). Combined with gloves and/or a rubber pad on the floor it is an excelent way to ease the removal of stockings. Granted that the person can reach the feet.
3. The Steve
The real challange comes when a person can not reach the feet. There are ways to put stockings on without reaching the feet, but we have not found a good tool for removing stockings without reaching and bending at the hip in the US. As mentioned above, the Steve from the Netherlands has a simple but effective way to do both. Since they are not available anywhere else in the US for retail we decided to import a few. You can find them at www.selfcare-solutions.com