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Keywords:

  • osteoarthritis;
  • knee;
  • exercise;
  • gait analysis

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a group exercise program for subjects with osteoarthritis of the knee referred for physiotherapy in terms of pain, physical function and gait. This study was initiated after an initial group exercise program at this centre failed to demonstrate significant changes in pain, physical function or gait. The study was based on repeated measures with a two month follow up, carried out in the outpatients department of a large public hospital. Pain levels in various functional situations were assessed on visual analogue scales, physical function with the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire, and quantitative gait variables at a normal and a fast self-selected speed with an electric foot switch walkway. On completion of the program (n=40) more than 90% of the pain and physical function scores demonstrated significant improvements without increases in medication, use of walking aids or fatigue. The gait variables of velocity, cadence and stride length at both self-selected speeds demonstrated significant increases at this assessment without deterioration of gait symmetry. All improvements were maintained at the two month follow up assessments. This study suggests that a clinically realistic group exercise program supplemented with a home program can reduce pain, increase physical function and objective gait measures in subjects with osteoarthritis of the knee. Copyright © 1997 Whurr Publishers Ltd.