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

Background: Aquatic therapy promotes short-term benefits for patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA), and it may be the first therapeutic option for this pathological condition. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of an aquatic therapy program on pain intensity, functional ability, and quality of life in older people with knee OA.

Methods/design: This is a parallel, two-arm, open, randomized controlled clinical trial with older people with knee OA. Volunteers will be allocated to an aquatic intervention group (WG), subjected to the intervention, or to a control group, not be subjected to any kind of intervention. Data collection pre- and postintervention will be composed of the evaluation of the perception of pain by visual analogue scale with application of nociceptive stimuli in four anatomical points of the knee, functional fitness tests, and application of the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale abbreviated version and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index. The program will last 12 weeks, consisting of aerobic and functional exercises in the form of circuit training.

Discussion: The objective of this clinical trial is to evaluate the effect of aquatic therapy in elderly patients with knee OA. The study is guided by practice-based scientific evidence for the use of aquatic rehabilitation exercises. It is expected that the WG volunteers will show reduced pain intensity, increased flexibility, and improved functional capacity and quality of life. It is believed that the desired results can be attributed to physical and physiological effects of immersion in warm water associated with the exercise protocol proposed. The data will be published after completion of the study.

Trial registration: Brazilian Registry of Clinical Trials (ReBEC) registration number: RBR-78h48d. Registered on 19 August 2015.

Keywords: Hydrotherapy, Pain, Quality of life, Osteoarthritis, Aged

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