All of the quantitative data (numbers, arm measurements) from the RLD reflexology and lymphoedema project is now collected, and we are happily playing with it, creating graphs, and running statistical tests, to demonstrate what we have is real and not just an illusion. I'm not allowed to tell you what the data says yet. I know that's frustrating but the funder has to know first, and so the report to the funder gets done first - after all they're paying for it, so they have first dibs on the results. however I can tell you I'm very excited. and that's not because Wimbledon is on, and Andy Murray is playing like a god. I'm very excited about this data. and there's still a lot of work to do yet, so my excitement is tempered by the mountain that is yet to climb. This is the work which needs to be put in by the research team in analysis, collation and presenting in an academic format suitable for publication. Then I'll be even more excited. The qualitative data is still being collated though. By qualitative data what I mean is the words, as opposed to the numbers data mentioned above. The ladies who took part were intereviewed to tell us what they thought of the study, and asked whether it made a difference to their arms, and whether it made a difference to their lives. Just take a wild guess about what they said. I'm quite excited about that data too. I'm far too excited for my own good. I promise as soon as I can, I will share the results. Until then, keep watching the blog dear reader. Oh, and Andy Murray too of course.
We have reached the end of data collection. All of our ladies have been measured, then measured again a week later, then given four consecutive weekly RLD treatments with one of our lovely reflexologists, Sally, Ginny and Elaine, and then measured again one week later. All of their measurements ( 22 different measurements each time) have been entered into the software and tomorrow, I will be checking each and every entry.
After that we can start to look for patterns, run statistical tests to look for correlations . Then we will know what the research has found. We already have graphs of percentage fluid differences between the good and bad arms. These graphs are already telling us a story, but we need the statistics to tell us how good the apparent difference is.
Lots of reflexologists don't see the point of all this research work. After all, it is not going to bring them more business, so what's the point? Well I think there is a benefit for all reflexologists in this kind of research. For one thing, it is demonstrating that there is an effect on the arm when pressing the foot - which to many non reflexologists is preposterous. We hope that the research will show that there is an undeniable effect. The second thing is it gets people thinking about what else might be happening, and therefore what other applications might there be for reflexology - and that's got to be good for all reflexologists. Finally, I really hope that it gets reflexologists thinking about their own curiosities. What have you seen as a reflexologist which warrants further exploration? What would you like to research? and what's stopping you? I'm not talking about University based funded studies like this, but all reflexologists can do little bits of research their own way, so long as they know the basics.
For example, lets suppose a hundred reflexologists across the country decided to collect together their experiences of treating clients with IBS. They might all treat them slightly differently, but they might all notice that after the fourth treatment, their clients had a healing crisis. The very fact that there is a pattern there warrants further exploration. That's research too.
I'd like to see a website full of photos of signs in the feet. Condition signs. The asthma sign for example - is it real? what if lots and lots of reflexologists took photos of feet and collected them together - that's also something that warrants further exploration.
For me, the excitement goes on - I really can't wait to see what the data reveals when it has been channelled through the statistical analysis. I'll keep you posted.
We are in our final week of data collection for the RLD Reflexology & Lymphoedema study, and it is thrilling and sad in equal measure. We have met and been able to help some lovely, lovely ladies whose gratitude has overwhelmed the research team. Below are some more photos for you. You'll see the upper arm looks solid with retained lymphatic fluid in the first photo - look how soft the arm is after the reflexology. The fluid loss remains stable over the weeks too, and doesn't return to its previous level. We can't say how long this lasts as the research is over a fixed period of 7 weeks, but maybe in the next study, we can add in some data for a longer period.