Hand involvement is an underappreciated clinical symptom in people with systemic sclerosis (SSc). As a result, for a study, researchers sought to look into the efficiency of a hand exercise program and show how it affected hand function, quality of life, anxiety, and depression in people with SSc. The study was a single-blind, randomized controlled comparative research. About 62 female patients with SSc were randomly assigned to either an exercise (n=32) or a control (n=30) group. After some patients were dropped from the study, each group had 25 patients evaluated. The 8-week intervention in the exercise group included isometric hand movements and self-administered stretching done 10 times/2 sets each day. The Hand Mobility in Scleroderma (HAMIS) test, the Duruoz Hand Index (DHI), grip strength, the 36-item short-form, Health Assessment Questionnaire–Disability Index (HAQ-DI), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were administered to all patients at baseline, 4 and 8 weeks later. The Friedman test was used to examine within-group comparisons across time. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used for post hoc analysis. The influence of exercise on clinical status was determined using multiple linear regression analysis.
The median age and body mass index of the 50 patients were 55.5 and 25.9 kg/m2, respectively. The sickness lasted a median of 10.0 years. 34 patients (68.0%) had diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dcSSC), whereas 16 (32.0%) had restricted cutaneous systemic sclerosis (LCSSC) (lcSSc). The primary endpoint of handgrip strength, as well as the HAMIS, DHI, HAQ-DI, and BDI, improved considerably over time (P<0.001, P<0.001, P<0.001, P<0.001, P<0.001, and P=0.005, respectively). The exercise group showed substantial improvement in DHI, handgrip strength, HAQ-DI, BAI, and BDI (P=0.02, P=0.013, P=0.001, P=0.015, and P=0.036, respectively). The exercise was the most effective factor influencing improvements in HAMIS, DHI, HAQ-DI, and grip strength in the multiple linear regression analysis.
For patients with SSc, an 8-week intervention consisting of isometric hand exercises and self-administered stretching resulted in substantial improvements in handgrip strength, overall health, quality of life, and psychological status.