Task-Specific Training for Adults With Chronic Knee Pain: A Case Series

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STUDY DESIGN: Case series.

BACKGROUND: Recent evidence suggests that traditional impairment-based rehabilitation approaches for patients with knee pain may not result in improved function or reduced disability. This case series describes a novel task-specific training approach to exercise therapy for patients with chronic knee pain and reports changes in measures of clinical outcome (pain and physical function) following participation in the training program.

CASE DESCRIPTION: Seven patients with chronic knee pain aged 40 years or older were included. Each reported at least “moderate” difficulty with sit-to-stand transfers, floor transfers, and/or stair negotiation at baseline. Experienced physical therapists provided between 8 and 16 treatment sessions focusing on improving performance of difficult or painful tasks.

OUTCOMES: A majority of patients demonstrated clinically important improvements in both patient-rated outcomes (Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, numeric pain-rating scale, modified Arthritis Self-Efficacy Scale) and performance-based outcomes (30-second chair-rise test, timed stair-climb test, floor transfer test, Performance Assessment of Self-Care Skills).

DISCUSSION: A task-specific training approach for patients with chronic knee pain was described and yielded considerable improvement in pain and function for most of the individuals in this case series. Larger studies are needed to determine how task-specific training compares with more traditional impairment-based exercise approaches for chronic knee pain.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapy, level 5.

KEY WORDS:knee, motor control/learning, therapeutic exercise

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