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Study recommends combining physical therapy exercise treatments to improve patient outcomes

October 15, 2015
by Nicole Stempak, Associate Editor
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New Zealand researchers found exercise therapy for people with knee osteoarthritis (OA) tends to be more effective when spread over the course of a year compared to shorter, consecutive sessions. Providing manual therapy in addition to exercise therapy also improved treatment effectiveness.

The study, e-published ahead of print in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, studied whether multimodal exercise therapy for knee OA was more effective for 12 45-minute exercise therapy sessions over nine weeks or through a “booster” schedule of eight consecutive sessions the first nine weeks, two booster sessions at five months, one booster session at eight months and a final booster at 11 months.

Overall treatment success was evaluated according to the Outcome Measures in Rheumatoid Arthritis Research Society International (OMERACT-OARSI) definitions.

However, effectiveness decreased when manual therapy was provided in consecutive sessions, leading researchers to wonder if a larger study sample would provide more insight.

“The finding of an adverse interaction effect between manual therapy and booster sessions…was perplexing,” the authors write. “The simplest and therefore most likely explanation,” they write, is the small sample group — 75 people with OA participated — may have introduced instability to the study.

Read the study here.

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