Objectives The aim of this open study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a functional restoration program for patients suffering from chronic disabling low back pain. Return to work 12 months after the end of the program was chosen as the main outcome.
Methods A questionnaire was sent to 125 patients (115 M, 10 F, mean age 40 years). The mean duration of absence from work before entry in the program was 4 months. All patients had followed an identical functional restoration program in a hospital setting 12 months before. The program included 6 h of physical therapy and ergonomics, 5 days per week for 3 weeks.
Results 109 questionnaires could be assessed. 57 patients (52%) were back to work, 39 (36%) full time and 18 (17%) at half time. 42 patients were not working. A shorter duration out of work before entry in the program, an improvement of the isokinetic trunk strength at the end of the program, a positive self assessment of the program and the absence of psychiatric comorbidity were all separate predictors of a favourable outcome.
Conclusion Our results are in agreement with those of the European literature. An intensive restoration functional program had positive effects in 53% of our selected population.
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