Effects of Strength and Stretching Exercises on Arm Function in Older People with Chronic Rheumatic Arthritis
Research background. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) usually affects the hands and worsens the function of hand grasping. Studies show that strength exercises for the hands are known to improve hand grip and overall hand function in middle-aged people, but the effect of combining strength and stretching exercises remains unclear in the elderly with chronic (up to 10 years) RA.
Research aim. To evaluate the effect of strength and stretching exercises on hand function for the elderly people with chronic rheumatoid arthritis.
Research methods. Twenty subjects from 60 to 80 years of age were divided into two groups: a control group (n = 10; 1 man) who performed 20 minutes of conventional physiotherapy without additional strength and stretching exercises, and an experimental group (n = 10; 1 man), who performed 20 minutes of conventional physiotherapy with 30 minutes additional strength and stretching exercises for hands. The study lasted 5 weeks, twice a week. Measurements of hand function, wrist and palm joint volumes and pain were performed at the beginning and end of the study for all subjects.
Research results. In both groups there was a statistically significant improvement in the functional condition of the hands according to the Keitel functional test and the amplitude of hand extension and flexion (p < 0.05). In the experimental group, after additional strength and stretching exercises, parameters (p < 0.05) improved statistically significantly. Comparing the two groups with each other after the intervention, there was a statistically significant improvement in hand functional parameters found in the experimental group after conventional strength and stretching exercises for the hands (p < 0.05).
Conclusions. Strength and stretching exercises can improve hand functional parameters, reduce pain more effectively, than using only conventional physiotherapy for elderly people with RA.
Keywords: rehabilitation, hand grip, chronic inflammatory joint disease.
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