Alcalde (2017) Effect of aquatic physical therapy on pain perception, functional capacity and quality of life in older people with knee osteoarthritis: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Introduction to Aquatic Therapy for Knee OA

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) significantly impacts the elderly, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Traditional exercise regimens often exacerbate joint pain, posing risks such as falls. Aquatic therapy emerges as a safer alternative, leveraging warm water’s buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure to alleviate joint stress and enhance physical function.

Study Objective and Design

This randomized controlled trial aims to assess aquatic therapy’s efficacy in managing knee OA among the elderly. The study compares the aquatic intervention group (WG) with a control group (CG) receiving no specific intervention. Evaluations include pain perception, functional capacity, and quality of life assessments before and after the 12-week program.

Methodological Approach

Participants, aged 60 and above with diagnosed knee OA, will undergo various tests to measure pain perception using a dolorimeter and a visual analogue scale (VAS), functional capacity through timed Up and Go (TUG) and flexibility tests, and quality of life via WHOQOL-BREF and WOMAC indices. The aquatic program will consist of coordinated, flexible, and muscle-strengthening exercises in a warm pool.

Expected Outcomes

The study hypothesizes that WG participants will exhibit significant improvements in pain management, functional mobility, and overall quality of life compared to the CG. The aquatic environment is expected to facilitate these benefits by reducing gravitational stress on joints, allowing for more effective exercise.

Significance and Future Directions

By demonstrating aquatic therapy’s potential advantages for knee OA management in the elderly, this trial could influence clinical practices and patient preferences for non-pharmacological treatments. The findings may pave the way for broader adoption of aquatic exercises in OA management protocols.

Keywords: Aquatic physical therapy, Knee osteoarthritis, Elderly, Pain management, Functional capacity, Quality of life.

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