The effects of a home-based arm ergometry exercise programme on physical fitness, fatigue and activity in Polio survivors: a randomised controlled trial

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Objective:To investigate the effect of an eight-week home-based arm ergometry aerobic exercise programme on physical fitness, fatigue, activity and quality of life in Polio Survivors.Design:An assessor blinded randomised controlled trial.Setting:Home-based exercise.Subjects:Fifty-five Polio survivors randomised to exercise or control groups.Intervention:Home-based arm ergometry at an intensity of 50%-70% maximum heart rate, compared with usual physiotherapy care.Main measures:The Six-minute Arm Test, Fatigue Severity Scale, Physical Activity Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities and SF-36. Assessments were completed at baseline and at eight weeks.Results:There was no significant difference in the primary outcome, exercising heart rate during the Six-minute Arm Test, between the groups at follow-up [97.6 (SD10.1) compared to 102.4 (SD13.7) beats per minute (P=0.20)]. Blood pressure was significantly lower in the intervention group at follow-up [systolic blood pressure 132(18.6)mmHg compared to 144.1(14.6)mmHg (P=0.002)]. There were no between group differences in the Fatigue Severity Scale (P=0.25) or Physical Activity Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities (P=0.49), with a small difference in SF-36 physical component score (P=0.04).Conclusions:This home-based arm ergometry programme successfully facilitated aerobic exercise in Polio Survivors, but did not result in a significant change in physical fitness, measured by the Six-minute Arm Test.

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