Supervised physical therapy (PT) and home exercise programs (HEPs) are frequently used in the rehabilitation of patients with distal radius fracture (DRF). However, there is no consensus as to whether unsupervised HEP provides comparable benefits to those achieved by supervised PT. Therefore the aim of this study was to compare the improvements in pain and functional status between a supervised PT program and unsupervised HEP in DRF patients older than 60 years.
A total of 74 patients were randomized into 2 groups. One group received 12 sessions of supervised PT (n = 37), and the other group followed an exercise program at home (n = 37). Three evaluations were performed, before the initiation of treatment, at 6-week, and 6-month follow-up. The study conducted a statistical power analysis to detect an intergroup difference score of 15 points on the Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation (PRWE). The t-test or Mann-Whitney test was used, and it was set with a significance level of .05.
The supervised PT group showed clinically significant differences in the total PRWE score at 6 weeks (17.67 points, P = .000) in the PRWE function score (15.2 points, P = .000) and in the PRWE pain score (5.6 points, P = .039). There was also a significant difference in the total PRWE score at 6-month follow-up (17.05 points, P = .000) in the PRWE function score (14.5 points, P = .000) and in the PRWE pain score (2.5 points, P = .35).
A supervised PT program is more effective for improving function in the short- and medium-term when compared with HEP in patients older than 60 years with DRF extraarticular without immediate complications.