The rehabilitation of facial involvement in systemic sclerosis: efficacy of the combination of connective tissue massage, Kabat's technique and kinesitherapy: a randomized controlled trial

Rheumatol Int. 2011 Jul;31(7):895-901. doi: 10.1007/s00296-010-1382-9. Epub 2010 Mar 18.


In Systemic Sclerosis (SSc), face involvement causes functional loss as well as aesthetic changes and loss of the self-image. The aim of the work is to evaluate the efficacy of a rehabilitation program based on the combination of Kabat's technique, connective massage and kinesitherapy specifically conceived for the face of SSc patients. Forty SSc patients were enrolled: 20 patients (interventional group) were treated for 9 weeks (twice a week, 1 h per session) with a combined connective tissue massage, Kabat's technique, kinesitherapy and home exercise program, and 20 patients (control group) were assigned only home exercise program. All patients were assessed at baseline (T0), at the end of the treatment (T1) and after 9 weeks of follow-up (T2). They were evaluated with SF-36, HAQ, modified Rodnan skin score, mouth opening in centimeters and Mouth Handicap in Systemic Sclerosis (MHISS) scale. At T1, both groups improved in mouth opening (P < 0.05), but the improvement was maintained at T2 only in interventional group. In interventional group, facial skin score ameliorated at T1 and maintained at T2 (P < 0.05 vs. T0), while no change was observed in controls. In both groups, SF-36 and HAQ were not affected by the treatment. MHISS scale improved significantly in interventional group at T1 (P < 0.001), while no change was found in controls. The combination of connective tissue massage, Kabat's technique, kinesitherapy and home-based exercises is more effective than a home exercise program alone in the rehabilitative treatment of SSc facial involvement.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Connective Tissue
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Face / blood supply
  • Face / physiology*
  • Facial Muscles / blood supply
  • Facial Muscles / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / rehabilitation*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome