Objective: Our previous randomized clinical trial showed a 4-month home physiotherapy program was effective for patients with ankylosing spondylitis. This followup study reports on 22 control patients who received the previously withheld treatment and 24 experimental patients who received followup treatment as needed.
Methods: The primary outcome measure was spinal mobility measured by fingertip-to-floor distance using a portable measuring device specially designed and validated for this study.
Results: Following treatment, fingertip-to-floor distance did not change in control patients (P2 = 0.145). Between 4 and 8 months, fingertip-to-floor distance did not change in experimental patients (P2 = 0.143); however, initial improvement achieved was maintained. The experimental group at 4 months was better than the control group at 8 months (P2 = 0.038).
Conclusion: The home physiotherapy treatment program must be delivered as rigorously as it was in the initial trial to be effective. The benefit from this treatment program can be maintained with very little intervention.