Background A published study demonstrating that listening to Rakugo (a comic story) alleviated the pain experienced by patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), accompanied by reduction in serum IL-6 and cortisol levels . Overall physical condition improvement and pain alleviation with music therapy have also been reported . However, only few studies have assessed the efficacy of occupational therapy (particularly handcraft work) in outpatients with RA.
Objectives The present study evaluated the usefulness of handcraft work (particularly ceramic art) for both physical and mental rehabilitation for outpatients with RA.
Methods The study involved 10 outpatients with RA managed at our hospital (all females, all right-handed persons, mean age 63.1 years, the average duration of disease was 10.7 years). For physical and mental evaluation, grip, pinching power, VAS score for systemic pain, 20-level FACE scale score, self-rating depression scale (SDS) score were measured before and after participation in ceramic art craft and compared. In addition, a questionnaire survey was administered to assess patient perception of ceramic art.
Results The range of annual changes among the participants was 0.4±0.3 for Modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (m-HAQ) and 0.9±1.6 for C-reactive protein (CRP).
Right hand grip was 14.3±7.2 kgw before participation and 14.8 ±7.1 after participation in ceramic art craft. Left hand grip was 12.1±7.1 and 13.4±7.1 before and after participation, respectively.
Right pinching power was 8.2±4.1 and 10.8±4.0 and left pinching power was 8.7±4.0 and 10.8±3.8 before and after participation, respectively.
VAS score for systemic pain was 38.0±29.2 and 22.4±21.5, and FACE scale scores was 4.7±3.6 and 2.9±3.3 before and after participation, respectively.
SDS score was 41.2±11.8 and 37.1±9.4 before and after participation, respectively. Thus, all parameters except right hand grip and left pinching power differed significantly between the pre-participation and post-participation periods.
In the questionnaire survey, many patients answered “having pleasure/joy in creation and use of ceramic products.” This indicates that ceramic art can serve as a continued activity for patients with RA, useful not only during treatment but also during daily living. In addition, ceramic art was shown to be useful in functional training, e.g., in “maintaining and reinforcing grip and finger function” and “maintaining and checking skilled movements.” These results suggest that ceramic art is an activity effective as a means of rehabilitation, with both physical and mental effects perceptible to the patients.
Conclusions Ceramic art is an activity capable of improving the physical condition and mental state (alleviation of depression, etc.) of patients with RA and improving physical functions such as grip of opposite hand and dominant pinching power. It is useful in the treatment of RA, similar to listening to Rakugo and music therapy.
Influence of laugh on patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Japanese Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine 1996;36:559–64.
Music therapy for rheumatism – making use of patient learning course. Rheumatol 2012;48:669–75.
Disclosure of Interest None declared