Encounter with Emil and Astrid Vodder

Differences between the Leduc and the Vodder methods Addressed in Professor Leduc’s following letter:


Professor Albert Leduc

I heard about Emil Vodder for the first time in 1969.

Emil Vodder had presented his technique of manual lymph drainage during a Physiotherapy Congress in Geneva, Switzerland. Then, a manual lymph drainage course was organized in Brussels, Belgium, by Emil and Astrid Vodder. I felt curious about the subject and I attended this course. At that time, I was a Doctor in Physical Education (Docteur Agrege en Education Physique = Ph D) from Brussels University (Universite Libre de Bruxelles) as well as “licencie” in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation from the same University. I was a researcher for the National Foundation for Medical Science Research. (FNRS). I was doing the analysis on bone resistance for the Budd(Paris, France) Society and some research on the metabolism of bone for Pharmitalia (Milan, Italy). After working for the FNRS, I was appointed assistant professor at the University. My function as Assistant Professor included teaching the students in Physical Therapy as well as research.

The creation of the Dutch branch of the Brussels University (University Libre de Bruxelles) offered me the opportunity of being nominated full professor and Director of the Research Laboratories attached to my function. In 1970, Dr. Sabine Godart transferred her private laboratory of research in Lymphology to the University laboratory that I directed. Our initial studies in lymphology were published in 1973 and 1974. Numerous theses were completed in our laboratory.. Several contracts were signed with private industry to test their products and evaluate their effects on the lymphatic system.

Concerning Emil Vodder, the course that he had offered in Brussels was very empirical. Emil Vodder himself had not published any scientific articles; he had not performed any fundamental or clinical research. He did not have a university degree.

Experiments on the manual technique of lymph drainage were carried out in veterinary and human clinics. In 1970, Emil Vodder participated in these experiments. His educational background did not allow him to master the scientific investigation, however he kept in close contact with the group of researchers.

The technique developed in Brussels progressed significantly based on the results of the scientific inquiry: the emergence of the technique of resorption, the use of anastomotic pathways, the introduction of compression devices, and multi-layered bandaging.

In 1978, when we considered that our technique was “au point”, the members of my team and 1, began to teach.

In 1984, 1 became a teacher at the University of Brussels, French language. (Universite Libre de Bruxelles- Langue frangaise.) There we decided to do some research, in vivo, in lymphology on the healthy and pathological human population. Combining the activities of both University’s research laboratories, we created multiple pools of study in order to investigate all the techniques used in physical medicine.

The efficiency of Emil Vodder’s technique had reviewed and some aspects modified; new techniques were implemented. Then, we used lymphoscintigraphy, with the assistance of P. Bourgeois, MD*, to observe the variations of the flow of marked proteins in the lymphatic system, while using different techniques of manual lymph drainage, different types of bandaging and various intermittent compression devices.

The compression devices as well as the bandaging technique were thoroughly tested by a team including Medical Doctors, Physical Therapists and a specialized engineer. The appropriate equipment necessary to gauge the various specific parameters were created in our laboratories.

Our method is continually evolving and we have created a teaching network covering a large part of Europe, United States and South America. Our students are Medical Doctors, Physical Therapists and, in the United States, Occupational Therapists. The method, taught only to professionals, can be rapidly mastered. We insist on the necessity of understanding the fundamentals in order to practice the technique.

Our philosophy is that, for the benefit of the patient, a method must be submitted to continual experimentation and performed by a team of well trained specialists. Teaching must be performed by experienced staff and directed to professionals.

Professor Albert Leduc,

Translated by: Anne-Marie Vaillant-Newman.

*Nuclear Medicine Service, CHJ Bracops Brussels Belgium.