gms | German Medical Science

15th Congress of the European Forum for Research in Rehabilitation (EFRR)

15.04. - 17.04.2019, Berlin

Efficacy of a three-week long intensive hand physical therapy in patients with systemic sclerosis

Meeting Abstract

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15th Congress of the European Forum for Research in Rehabilitation (EFRR). Berlin, 15.-17.04.2019. DŘsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2019. Doc037

doi: 10.3205/19efrr037, urn:nbn:de:0183-19efrr0375

Veröffentlicht: 16. April 2019

© 2019 Varj˙ et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open-Access-Artikel und steht unter den Lizenzbedingungen der Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (Namensnennung). Lizenz-Angaben siehe



Background: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune disease characterized by variable musculoskeletal manifestations.

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of joint-contractures in patients with SSc and the efficacy of a three-week long complex physical therapy on their hand function.

Method: Thirty-one patients with SSc were treated. Hand stretching exercises, ergotherapy supplemented with thermal and mud baths, whirlpool therapy and soft tissue massage were daily used during a three-week period. The control SSc group (n=22) received similar management for their large joints leaving out their hands. The primary outcome of this study were the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH). Hand Anatomic Index (HAI), Cochin Hand Function (CHFT) and clinical characteristics were also assessed before starting the therapy and six months afterwards.

Results/findings: Six months after the investigation period, only the group receiving hand physical therapy showed improvement in HAQ and DASH scores compared to the baseline values (p<0.05). The improvement in median HAQ value (25%-75% quartiles) reached the clinical meaningful rate (baseline 1.125 /0.625-1.625/ versus 0.75 /0.25-1.5/ at six months). Visual analogue scales of global pain (p<0.01) and Raynaud’s phenomenon (p<0.05) also had better results than at baseline. HAI, gripping strength and CHFT also showed some improvement, but did not reach the significance level of change by the end of the six-month observation period.

Discussion and conclusions: The complex physical therapy caused favourable changes in both the HAQ and the DASH indicating that this particular program had some long-term beneficial effect on hand function in patients with SSc.