Open Access Study protocol

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

Deirdre Murray12*, Dara Meldrum1, Roisin Moloney2, Anna Campion2, Frances Horgan1 and Orla Hardiman3

Author Affiliations

1 Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland

2 Physiotherapy Department, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, Ireland

3 Department of Neuroscience Beaumont Hospital and Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 9, Ireland

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BMC Neurology 2012, 12:157  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-157

Published: 13 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Many Polio survivors have reduced mobility, pain and fatigue, which make access to conventional forms of aerobic exercise difficult. Inactivity leads to increased risk of health problems, many of which are prevalent among Polio survivors. Aerobic exercise programmes in Polio survivors should utilise stable muscle groups and should be designed to minimise exacerbation of pain and fatigue. A home-based arm ergometry aerobic exercise programme may represent an affordable and accessible exercise modality, incorporating exercise prescription principles in this group.

Methods/design

This is a prospective, single blinded, randomised controlled trial. There are two arms; exercise intervention using arm ergometers and control. Polio survivors meeting eligibility criteria will be recruited and randomly allocated to intervention or control groups. Participants allocated to the intervention group will receive a small arm ergometer and a polar heart rate monitor. They will carry out a home-based moderate intensity (50-70% HRMax) aerobic exercise programme for eight weeks, following instruction by the treating physiotherapist. Assessments will occur at baseline and after eight weeks and will include tests of physical fitness, activity, energy cost of walking, fatigue and quality of life. Clinically feasible assessment tools including the Six Minute Arm Test, the Physical Activity Scale for People with Physical Disabilities questionnaire, the Physiological Cost Index, Fatigue Severity Scale and the SF-36v2 will be utilised.

Discussion

The efficacy of a home-based arm ergometry programme in Polio survivors will be examined. No previous trial has examined such a programme using a wide range of outcome measures pertinent to Polio survivors. This study will provide new information on the impact of arm ergometry on physical fitness, activity, body composition, fatigue, pain, muscle strength, and health related quality of life. Also, the study will provide information, which at present is lacking, on safety of aerobic exercise in Polio, as potential negative outcomes of activity including loss of muscle strength, increased pain and fatigue will be closely monitored.

Trial registration

Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT01271530

Keywords:
Poliomyelitis; Arm Ergometry; Physical fitness; Fatigue