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Does outpatient physical therapy with the aim of improving health-related physical fitness influence the level of physical activity in patients with long-term musculoskeletal conditions?

Abstract

Objective

To evaluate any change in self-reported level of physical activity in patients receiving a general physical exercise programme in addition to disease-specific physiotherapy treatment.

Design

Pre–post-intervention study.

Setting

Outpatient physiotherapy clinics.

Participants

One hundred and ninety patients with long-term musculoskeletal conditions attending outpatient physiotherapy were recruited from seven physiotherapy clinics.

Interventions

Physiotherapy including disease-specific modalities and a general individually tailored exercise programme. Patients were evaluated at baseline and at the end of the programme.

Main outcome measures

International Physical Activity Questionnaire short form (IPAQ-sf) and COOP WONCA functional assessment charts.

Results

Forty-two patients were excluded from the analysis because they did not complete the IPAQ-sf correctly or dropped out during the treatment period. There was a significant increase in the number of metabolic equivalent task (MET)-min/week for vigorous and moderate-intensity activities, walking and total physical activity. The number of exercise sessions per week increased from 1.8 [standard deviation (SD) 0.9] to 2.2 (SD 1.2) (P = 0.001). The proportion of patients with a low level of physical activity decreased by 12%, and the proportion of the participants who did not/could not exercise decreased from 26% to 8%. The COOP WONCA charts showed significant improvements in the physical fitness, feelings, daily activities and social activities items.

Conclusion

A significant increase was found in the number of MET-min/week for all activity levels. Therefore, a general physical exercise programme initiated by a physiotherapist led to a positive change in level of physical activity.

Cite this article

Does outpatient physical therapy with the aim of improving health-related physical fitness influence the level of physical activity in patients with long-term musculoskeletal conditions?

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