Can an online exercise prescription tool improve adherence to home exercise programmes in children with cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disabilities? A randomised controlled trial
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Objective: Determine the adherence to and effectiveness of an 8-week home exercise programme for children with disabilities delivered using Physitrack, an online exercise prescription tool, compared with traditional paper-based methods.
Design: Single-blinded, parallel-groups, randomised controlled trial (RCT). Setting Intervention took place in participants' homes in Western Australia.
Participants: Children aged 6 to 17 years, with neurodevelopmental disabilities including cerebral palsy (CP), receiving community therapy services.
Intervention: All participants completed an individualised home exercise programme, which was delivered to the intervention group using Physitrack and conventional paper-based methods for the control group.
Primary outcome measures: Adherence to exercise programme, goal achievement and exercise performance. Secondary outcome measures: Enjoyment, confidence and usability of Physitrack.
Results: Fifty-four participants with CP (n=37) or other neurodevelopmental disabilities (n=17) were recruited. Fifty-three were randomised after one early withdrawal. Forty-six completed the 8-week programme, with 24 in the intervention group and 22 in the control group. There was no difference between the two groups for percentage of exercises completed (intervention (n=22): 62.8% (SD 27.7), control (n=22): 55.8% (SD 19.4), between group mean difference-7.0% (95% CI:-21.6 to 7.5, p=0.34)). Both groups showed significant improvement in their self-rated performance of individualised goal activities, however there was no statistically significant difference between groups for goal achievement, quality of exercise performance, enjoyment, confidence or preferred method of delivery. There were no adverse events.
Conclusion: Physitrack provides a therapist with a new means of providing an exercise programme with online tools such as exercise videos, but our preliminary findings indicate that it may be no better than a traditional paper-based method for improving exercise adherence or the other outcomes measured. Exercise programmes remain an intervention supported by evidence, but a larger RCT is required to fully evaluate online delivery methods.
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