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Hand exercise for women with rheumatoid arthritis and decreased hand function: an exploratory randomized controlled trial

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BACKGROUND: People with hand-related rheumatoid arthritis (RA) experience problems performing activities of daily living (ADL). Compensatory strategies to improve ADL ability have shown effective. Similarly, hand exercise has shown effect on pain, grip strength, and self-reported ability. A combination has shown positive effects based on self-report, but self-report and observation provide distinct information about ADL. The purpose of this study was to examine whether hand exercise as add on to compensatory intervention (CIP) will improve observed ADL ability in RA.

METHODS: Women (n = 55) with hand-related RA were randomized to CIPEXERCISE (intervention) or CIP only (control). CIP is focused on joint protection, assistive devices, and alternative ways of performing AD. The hand-exercise program addressed range of motion and muscle strength. Primary outcome was change in observed ADL motor ability measured by the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS). Baseline measures were repeated after 8 weeks.

RESULTS: Improvements in ADL motor ability in CIPEXERCISE (mean change = 0.24 logits; 95% CI = 0.09 to 0.39) and CIPCONTROL (mean change =0.20 logits; 95% CI = 0.05 to 0.35) were statistically significant, with no differences between groups (mean difference = 0.04 logits; 95% CI = - 0.16 to 0.25). Thirteen (46.4%) participants in the CIPEXERCISE and 12 (44.4%) in the CIPCONTROL obtained clinically relevant improvements (≥ 0.30 logits) in ADL motor ability; this group difference was not significant (z = 0.15; p = 0.88).

CONCLUSION: Adding hand exercise to a compensatory intervention did not yield additional benefits in women with hand-related RA. The study was approved by the ethics committee 14th of April 2014 (H-3-2014-025) and registered at 16th of May 2014 (NCT02140866).

Original languageEnglish
Article number158
JournalArthritis Research & Therapy
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)158
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2019

    Research areas

  • ADL performance, Exercise program, Hand function, Observational based assessment, Rheumatoid arthritis

ID: 57522501