Is there any role for physical therapy in chronic GvHD?
Chronic GvHD is the leading cause of non-relapse mortality in recipients of hematopoietic cell transplantation. Although the benefit of physical therapy (PT) has been reported in some GvHD studies, a literature gap is identified in demonstrating the exact role of different types of PT interventions and their impact on GvHD outcomes. An electronic search was undertaken using 13 peer-reviewed databases from 1994 to 2016. JADAD scoring method was used to score the quality of articles. PT interventions utilized for non-GvHD aspects of transplantation were excluded. Out of the 4775 articles on the electronic search, 297 articles were reviewed out of which 3 fulfilled the selection criteria. Moderately high evidence for effectiveness of supervised PT intervention was found, whereas moderate evidence for a self-administered exercise program was established. No safety concerns with PT were observed in any of the studies, however none of the studies were conducted to directly evaluate safety and effectiveness specifically in GvHD patients. PT is a safe but understudied therapy for GvHD. Limited evidence on the effectiveness of most PT interventions is available through randomized control trials. Well-designed trials are urgently needed for musculoskeletal GvHD especially with focused PT interventions.