Physiotherapist and participant perspectives from a randomized-controlled trial of physiotherapist-supported online vs. paper-based exercise programs for people with moderate to severe multiple sclerosis

Katherine B. Knox*, Darren Nickel, Sarah J. Donkers, Lorna Paul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: There is a gap in research on how best to support exercise in moderate to severe MS. The objective of this study is to share perspectives of people living with MS and physiotherapists on their experiences in a randomized clinical trial of online physiotherapy vs. an active comparator.

Methods: Semi-structured exit interviews were conducted with volunteer participants from the online and comparator arms of the trial, and focus groups were held with study physiotherapists. Transcripts were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis.

Results: Perspectives from participants with MS yielded three themes: usability of their program, utility of their program, and motivation to participate. Visual and dexterity impairments limited the usability of the online program. Having an opportunity “to be pushed” was valued by participants in both trial arms. Motivation to exercise was variable, and participants desired periodic face-to-face contact with their physiotherapists. Perspectives from trial physiotherapists yielded similar and complementary findings concerning usability and utility.

Conclusions: Participants with MS and physiotherapists found the online physiotherapy platform useful for supporting exercise, yet they identified some limitations. As the appeal of online platforms has increased since the pandemic, it will be important to consider the needs of people with moderate to severe MS.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Early online date28 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Telerehabilitation
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • physiotherapy
  • exercise
  • patient preference
  • internet-based intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation

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