A pilot study assessing the feasibility of a home-based progressive resistance exercise program and trend toward healing rates for patients with venous leg ulcers

O'Brien, Jane Alison (2010) A pilot study assessing the feasibility of a home-based progressive resistance exercise program and trend toward healing rates for patients with venous leg ulcers. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Venous leg ulceration is a serious condition affecting 1 – 3% of the population. Decline in the function of the calf muscle pump is correlated with venous ulceration. Many previous studies have reported an improvement in the function of the calf muscle pump, endurance of the calf muscle and increased range of ankle motion after structured exercise programs. However, there is a paucity of published research that assesses if these improvements result in an improvement in the healing rates of venous ulcers. The primary purpose of this pilot study was to establish the feasibility of a homebased progressive resistance exercise program and examine if there was any clinical significance or trend toward healing. The secondary aims were to examine the benefit of a home-based progressive resistance exercise program on calf muscle pump function and physical parameters. The methodology used was a randomised controlled trial where eleven participants were randomised into an intervention (n = 6) or control group (n = 5). Participants who were randomised to receive a 12-week home-based progressive resistance exercise program were instructed through weekly face-to-face consultations during their wound clinic appointment by the author. Control group participants received standard wound care and compression therapy. Changes in ulcer parameters were measured fortnightly at the clinic (number healed at 12 weeks, percentage change in area and pressure ulcer score healing score). An air plethysmography test was performed at baseline and following the 12 weeks of training to determine changes in calf muscle pump function. Functional measures included maximum number of heel raises (endurance), maximal isometric plantar flexion (strength) and range of ankle motion (ROAM); these tests were conducted at baseline, week 6 and week 12. The sample for the study was drawn from the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia. Participants with venous leg ulceration who met the inclusion criteria were recruited. The participants were screened via duplex scanning and ankle brachial pressure index (ABPI) to ensure they did not have any arterial complications. Participants were excluded if there was evidence of cellulitis. Demographic data were obtained from each participant and details regarding medical history, quality of life and geriatric depression scores were collected at baseline. Both the intervention and control group were required to complete a weekly exercise diary to monitor activity levels between groups. To test for the effect of the intervention over time, a repeated measures analysis of variance was conducted on the major outcome variables. Group (intervention versus control) was the between subject factor and time (baseline, week 6, week 12) was the within subject or repeated measures factor. Due to the small sample size, further tests were conducted to check the assumptions of the statistical test to be used. The results showed that Mauchly.s Test, the Sphericity assumptions of repeated measures for ANOVA were met. Further tests of homogeneity of variance assumptions also confirmed that this assumption was met. Data analysis was conducted using the software package SPSS for Windows Release 17.0. The pilot study proved feasible with all of the intervention (n=6) participants continuing with the resistance program for the 12 week duration and no deleterious effects noted. Clinical significance was observed in the intervention group with a 32% greater change in ulcer size (p= 0.26) than the control group, and a 10% (p = 0.74) greater difference between the numbers healed compared to the control group. Statistical significance was observed for the ejection fraction (p = 0.05), residual volume fraction (p = 0.04) and ROAM (p = 0.01), which all improved significantly in the intervention group over time. These results are encouraging, nevertheless, further investigations seem warranted to examine the effect exercise has on the healing rates of venous leg ulcers, with a multistudy site, larger sample size and longer follow up period.

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ID Code: 43615
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Edwards, Helen & Stewart, Ian
Keywords: venous leg ulcer, exercise, resistance program, older adults, calf muscle pump, range of ankle motion, calf muscle endurance, calf muscle strength, home based exercise program, feasibility study, pilot study
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 26 Jul 2011 03:06
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2011 03:06

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