Springfield physical therapists explain findings of recent study that shows how basic advice can increase physical activity levels

Springfield physical therapists ankylosing spondylitis

Here at ARS Hand & Physical Therapy, we understand that when it comes to deciding the best course of action for your musculoskeletal injury or condition, there are many options available. However, based on our own experience within the clinic and the evidence found in research studies, we firmly believe that physical and occupational therapy is the best possible choice you can make. To help you better understand the advantages of the treatments we provide, our physical and occupational therapists bring you examples of some of the most recent studies that highlight the many benefits of our services.

This month, we’d like to discuss a recent study that investigates the use of advice and encouragement to increase physical activity in patients with a painful back condition.

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, but may cause problems in other parts of the body as well. In AS, the spinal joints (vertebrae) become inflamed, which goes on to cause severe, long-lasting pain and discomfort. Due to these symptoms, individuals with AS usually experience a reduction in their physical fitness, work productivity and quality of life.

For this reason, physical activity is considered essential in the treatment of AS, and it’s been found to improve physical function, mobility, and quality of life in these patients. Unfortunately, most individuals with AS fail to get nearly enough physical activity and they do not comply well with exercise programs that are prescribed to them.

Brief intervention to increase physical activity

One possible solution to address this problem is to use a brief intervention, which includes verbal advice, discussion and encouragement to increase physical activity levels.

This type of approach has been supported by research for addressing other conditions, but no studies have investigated its use on AS patients. To clear this up, a powerful study called a randomized-controlled trial was conducted to determine if this brief intervention could improve physical activity levels in individuals with AS.

In the study, a group of 40 patients with AS were randomly divided into two groups. One group attended between 2-6 30-minute consultations with a physical therapist over three months. In the sessions, the physical therapist gave each participant information on AS, provided them with resources to attend local physical activity classes and programs, and helped them set individual physical activity goals and a plan to accomplish them. Over the next three months, these participants followed up with the therapist as regularly as they liked, and received additional motivation to keep working towards their goals. Participants in the other group did not attend any sessions over this time, and were simply instructed to continue with their normal physical activity.

On the whole, this brief intervention seemed to be effective for increasing physical activity levels and bringing about other benefits in AS patients. After six months, 70% of participants in the first group were adhering to general guidelines for aerobic physical activity, which was significantly higher than the second group. In addition, the first group improved in scores for their spinal flexibility and quality of life, which shows that the benefits in health extended into other aspects of their lives as well.

Our Springfield physical therapists offer motivation…and more

Overall, these findings show that using a brief intervention to advise and motivate patients with AS to become more physically active can accomplish this task and also lead to other positive changes. At ARS Hand & Physical Therapy, our Springfield physical therapists can provide AS patients not only with this type of encouragement, but a specific exercise program to help them reach their goals as well. Contact us at 973-379-7006 to schedule an appointment to address your AS or any other painful condition you may be experiencing, or click here to read the abstract (summary) of the study.