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Effects of a range-of-motion exercise programme


L.-C. Lin:


Title. Effects of a range-of-motion exercise programme

Aim.  This paper reports an evaluation of a range-of-motion exercise programme aimed at improving joint flexibility, activity function, perception of pain, and depressive symptoms in a sample of stroke survivors in long-term care facilities.

Background.  The benefits of physical rehabilitation for stroke survivors have been well established. There is, however, little empirical data on the effects of a simple nurse-led range-of-motion exercise programme in improving function for these people.

Method.  A randomized controlled trial was conducted in 1999 with 59 bedridden older stroke survivors in residential care. Participants were randomly assigned to usual care or one of two intervention groups. The 4-week, twice-per-day, 6 days-per-week range-of-motion exercise protocols were similar in both intervention groups, and consisted of full range-of-motion exercises of the upper and lower extremities. To test the effect of different degrees of staff involvement, in intervention group I, a Registered Nurse was present to supervise participants performing the exercises, while intervention group II involved a Registered Nurse physically assisting participants to achieve maximum range-of-motion within or beyond their present abilities.

Results.  Both intervention groups had statistically significant improvement in joint angles, activity function, perception of pain and depressive symptoms compared with the usual care group (P < 0·05). Post hoc comparison revealed that the joint angles in intervention group II were statistically significantly wider than in both the other groups (P < 0·01).

Conclusions.  A simple nurse-led range-of-motion exercise programme can generate positive effects in enhancing physical and psychological function of bedridden older people with stroke. Further studies are needed to investigate the long-term effects of the programme in maximizing function, reducing care utilization and enhancing quality of life for this population.