Rehabilitation program for the quality of life for individuals on highly active antiretroviral therapy in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a short report

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Abstract

Patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) spend less time on vigorous activities due to lower aerobic capacity with functional limitations that can be attributed to a detraining effect, resulting in a poor quality of life (QoL). The overall aims of rehabilitation are to restore, to maintain, and to enhance the QoL and this detraining effect could possibly be reversed by a rehabilitation program. This randomized controlled prospective longitudinal descriptive study evaluated the impact of a rehabilitation program of moderate-intensity cycling and treadmill walking exercises with a home program on the QoL for individuals on HAART. Fifty-two participants with baseline QoL values formed the experimental and control groups with a 3-month pretest and posttest using the short-form health survey (SF-36) questionnaire. No adverse effects from exercises were experienced, and 20 (77%) of the experimental and 16 (62%) of the controls completed the program. A significantly higher number of women dropped out (P<0.04), with four (15%) from the experimental group and six (23%) from the control group. There were significant improvements in all QoL domains (P<0.05) for the experimental group compared with the control group, with the physical component summary (P<0.018) and mental component summary (P<0.021) scores being significantly higher after rehabilitation. Sick leave decreased from a mean of 7 days to 3 for the experimental group and 5 for the control group. These results indicate that a rehabilitation program of moderate-intensity exercises with a home program significantly improved the QoL for individuals on HAART. Further research with a comprehensive rehabilitation program and a larger sample is recommended.

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