A personalized program of home-based exercises without a physical therapist’s supervision may be beneficial for patients in the early stage of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a news item from ALS News Today.

In the small Japanese study, published in the journal Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, researchers evaluated the effects of structured home-based exercises among 21 patients diagnosed with early-stage ALS, known as the Home-Ex group, compared to a control group of 84 patients with early-stage ALS who performed supervised exercise with a physical therapist for 6 months.

The patients performed tailored but unsupervised, home-based exercises that targeted the upper limbs, lower limbs, and trunk muscles. The exercises also included functional training for activities of daily living such as turning over and standing from a chair, the news story continues.

Patients performed the exercises on their own over a 6-month period and recorded each exercise type, frequency, and number of repetitions.

Physical therapists regularly assessed the patients’ reports and evaluated their muscle weakness via manual muscle testing (MMT). They also monitored patient fatigue each month during a face-to-face interview and readjusted the exercise program anytime there was a marked increase in fatigue or a decline in muscle strength, per the news story.

The researchers assessed patients’ Home-Ex outcomes using the ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised (ALSFRS-R), which ranges from a score of 0 to 48. Higher scores indicate better function.

A total of 15 patients out of 21 completed the 6-month study period of home-based exercises. The results showed that patients in the Home-EX group had significant improvements in the total score of ALSFRS-R compared to controls – 38.1 versus 33.1, respectively.

Also, the Home-EX group needed significantly fewer physical therapy sessions than the control group, the story notes.

These results suggest that, “structured home-based exercises without supervision by a physical therapist could be used to alleviate functional deterioration in patients with early-stage ALS,” the study concludes.

[Source: ALS News Today]