Occupational therapy helps osteoarthritis patients move

September 29th, 2008 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 29 (IANS) A new approach could help patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis lead more active lives and even improve their overall health.Researchers found that patients who engaged in activity strategy training led by an occupational therapist along with regular exercise increased their physical activity, more so than those patients who only took part in exercise and health education sessions.

“Occupational therapy is really the missing link in promoting wellness of people with hip and knee osteoarthritis,” said study co-author Susan L. Murphy, assistant professor, physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School.

“Most people with osteoarthritis want to be active, but often find that there are personal or physical barriers in the way. For instance, people with osteoarthritis often deal with pain and fatigue, which makes engaging in regular physical activity more difficult.

“In addition, there are often barriers in people’s homes and communities that make physical activity difficult.”

Taught by occupational therapists, this structured rehabilitation programme is designed to educate patients about joint protection, proper body mechanics, activity pacing and environmental barriers, according to a U-M release. The findings will appear in the October issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

For example, patients with joint pain caused by osteoarthritis learn techniques for walking around the house or outdoors, or even getting in and out of a car.

For the pilot study, the activity strategy training included education, group discussion, a home visit and demonstration and practice of techniques to facilitate activity.

In this study, two groups participated in the same structured exercise programme. However, only participants who received the activity strategy training were found to have increased the intensity of their physical activity at the end of the study compared to those who received health.

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