Purpose: The goal of occupational therapy (OT) is to facilitate adjustments to lifestyle, and to prevent function loss. This study evaluated the effects of an early OT program in early rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods: A randomized blind controlled trial enrolled 60 early RA patients divided into two groups. At baseline, group I received the full information program and group II no information. In an extension phase, patients of group II received at 3 months the full information program and were assessed at 6 months. The main outcomes were grip strength of hands (as objective assessment) and Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score (as subjective assessment).
Results: At 3 months, grip strength of the dominant and non-dominant hands increased more in group I than in group II (p=0.021 and 0.047 respectively). HAQ score decreased more in group I than in group II (p<0.001). In the extension phase, changes in grip strength and HAQ score in group II were similar that seen in group I between baseline and 3 months.
Conclusion: This study comparing two schedules of OT program showed that an early extended information program improved hand function in early RA patients.