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Therapeutic exercise is a safe and cost-effective approach to alleviate hand rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-related symptoms. This study aims to investigate the differences in self-management between a smartphone app (CareHand), using hand exercises and educational advices, compared with a standard approach, on hand overall function, pain intensity, stiffness, and grip and pinch strength in patients with hand RA.
The project is a prospective, longitudinal, superiority, randomized controlled trial. Fifty-eight participants with hand RA will be randomly assigned into an experimental group (CareHand app) or a control group (conventional treatment). Control intervention involves a paper sheet with exercises and recommendations, and the experimental group includes the use of a smartphone app, which provides individualized exercise programs, self-management, and educational strategies to promote adherence to treatment. Both intervention protocols will last for 3 months. The principal investigator will conduct an educational session at baseline for all participants. Primary outcome comprises the overall hand function, assessed with the Michigan Hand Outcome Questionnaire (MHQ). Secondary outcomes include self-reported functional ability with the Quick DASH questionnaire, self-reported pain intensity and morning stiffness using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), and hand grip and pinch strength (dynamometer). Outcome measures will be collected at baseline, and at 1 month and 3-month follow-up.
This study will evaluate the effectiveness of a tele-rehabilitation tool, which uses exercise and self-management strategies, compared to a conventional approach, in patients with hand RA. The smartphone app will allow to monitor the patient’s status and to enhance patient-therapist communication. Some limitations may be related to the short follow-up duration and the lack of evaluation of psychosocial factors. Overall, this new way of promoting long-term effects in patients with a chronic rheumatic disease could be feasible and easy to implement in daily life clinical practice and current musculoskeletal care.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04263974. Registered on 7 March 2020. Date of last update 15 April 2020. Ethics committee code: PI_RH_2018.