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Researchers look to physical therapy to get arthritis patients moving


Friday, December 18, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Counseling by a physical therapist has the potential to improve physical activity in people with inflammatory arthritis, according to an Arthritis Research Canada study.

Researchers recruited people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and involved them in an 8-week physical activity intervention.

This included an in-person session with 20 minutes of group education and 30 minutes of individual counseling with a physical therapist, use of a Fitbit wristband paired with an app developed by the research team, and four bi-weekly phone calls (20-30 minutes) with a physical therapist. Physical therapists guided participants to set goals, develop an action plan, and identify barriers and solutions to physical activity.

"While the research doesn't prove this intervention will work for all people with inflammatory arthritis, we found a significant improvement in pain, which suggests it might have a positive effect on symptom management," said Dr. Linda Li, a Senior Scientist of Clinical Epidemiology at Arthritis Research Canada.

Supporting a physically active lifestyle is an important part of self-care for people living with arthritis. It can reduce complications like cardiovascular conditions and has a positive effect on pain, sleep quality and fatigue.

The results of this study provide a foundation for further development of the intervention for individuals with inflammatory arthritis.

SOURCE: Arthritis Research Canada