Objectives To develop a 12-week hand exercise intervention for patients with polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM) and evaluate adherence, patients opinion of program design and overall feasibility and the effect on hand function and activity limitation after the intervention.
Methods A pilot, hand exercise intervention was conducted on a convenience sample of 15 patients with reduced handgrip strength and established, inactive PM and DM. Acceptable adherence was set at 75%. The program was evaluated based on patients' opinions regarding exertion, the movements and over all feasibility. Hand- and pinch-grip strength, grip ability, dexterity and activity limitation were assessed.
Results Eleven of 15 patients completed the intervention with acceptable adherence of 78–100%. Measures of handgrip strength, dexterity and activity limitation were reduced at baseline. Throughout the intervention, exertion was rated between “moderate” and “somewhat strong”. Finger abduction and adduction were excluded from the program because they were not feasible. Repetitions increased continuously to a maximum of 30 repetitions per movement. Patients regarded this as too time-consuming and suggested 10 repetitions daily or 10–20 repetitions 2–4 times per week. There were some individual, clinically meaningful improvements in hand function and activity limitation. After the intervention, three-jaw pinch grip strength (left hand) had improved.
Conclusions A hand exercise program was feasible to perform by patients with established PM or DM. The effect was limited with few individual improvements in hand function and activity limitation, indicating a need to increase the resistance in the movements and to limit the time spent.
Disclosure of Interest None declared