Objective: To investigate the benefits and safety of an intensive muscular training program in patients with chronic polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM).
Methods: Nine patients with chronic PM or DM (median age 53 years, range 44-61) were included. Assessments of impairment (10-15 voluntary repetition maximum [VRM], the Functional Index 2 [FI-2], the Grippit, and pain rated on the Borg CR-10 scale), activity limitation (Myositis Activities Profile), and participation restriction (patients' disease impact on well-being) were performed 4 weeks prior to baseline, at baseline, and after 7 weeks of exercise. A 6-item core set of disease activity measures was administered and muscle biopsy samples of vastus lateralis were obtained at baseline and after 7 weeks of exercise. Response criteria at an individual level were set for disability and disease activity. The patients exercised 3 days per week for 7 weeks on loads allowing 10 VRM.
Results: On a group level there were no significant differences between assessments at 4 weeks before baseline compared with baseline. The group improved significantly regarding 10-15 VRM and FI-2 at 7 weeks compared with baseline (P < 0.05). All patients were responders with respect to impairment and 2 were activity limitation responders whereas participation restriction remained unchanged in all. Two patients were responders with reduced disease activity and no patient had signs of increased muscle inflammation in the muscle biopsy sample after 7 weeks of exercise.
Conclusion: Patients with chronic, stable PM and DM can perform this intensive resistive exercise program with beneficial effects on impairment and activity limitation without increased muscle inflammation.