A quasi-experimental pilot study was performed to determine the feasibility and safety of an Adapted Physical Activity (APA) protocol and its effect on health-related quality of life (HRQOL), fear of falling, pain, and physical performance in women with osteoporosis-related vertebral fractures. Forty-four post-menopausal women (mean age: 67.6 ± 4.6) with osteoporotic vertebral fractures were assigned to an exercise group (APA group = 26) who attended a six-month exercise protocol that included postural and muscular reinforcement exercises, and a control group (CG = 18) who was asked to maintain their current lifestyle. At baseline and six months after baseline, HRQOL was measured as primary outcome by the Assessment of Health Related Quality of Life in Osteoporosis (ECOS-16) questionnaire. Secondary outcomes were fear of falling (Fall Efficacy Scale International, FES-I), lumbar back pain (Visual Analogue Scale-VAS), functional exercise capacity (Six Minutes Walking Test-6MWT, Borg scale), balance and gait (Tinetti Scale), and flexibility of the column (Chair Sit-and-Reach). The effects of the intervention were analyzed by comparison within groups and between groups. Effect sizes (ES) were calculated using Cohen's d. All the outcomes significantly improved in the APA group, while they remained unchanged in the CG. After adjustment for unbalanced variables, the comparison between groups showed significant effects of the intervention for ECOS-16-score, functional exercise capacity, balance, and gait. The exercise program had big effect sizes on HRQOL (ES = 1.204), fear of falling (ES = 1.007), balance (ES = 0.871), and functional exercise capacity (ES = 1.390). Good adherence (75.8%) and no injuries were observed. Due to its feasibility, safety, and effectiveness, the proposed exercise protocol can be adopted in APA programs addressed to patients with osteoporosis-related vertebral fractures.
Keywords: adapted physical activity; fear of falling; health-related quality of life; osteoporosis-related vertebral fractures; physical performance.