Investigating the potential use of electronic-rehabilitation programmes for long-term knee pain in the UK

Disease - Osteoarthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Philip Conaghan

Organisation - University of Leeds

Type of grant - Health Services Research

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £238,317.75

Start date - 1 May 2019

Reference - 22091

What are the aims of this research?

Knee pain affects one in four adults and is most commonly caused by osteoarthritis. Evidence shows exercise can reduce pain and improve function of the knee, but new ways of delivering exercise programmes are needed to better support patients. This study aims to see whether electronic (e)-rehabilitation programmes are a feasible and useful way to support people with knee pain. The researchers will compare three exercise programmes; a group interactive e-rehabilitation programme, a web-based home exercise programme and normal care (which consists of physiotherapy appointments). Following this they will seek feedback from participants and physiotherapists through interviews and questionnaires, to determine the success and suitability of the new programmes.

Why is this research important?

The muscle-strengthening exercise programmes needed to help relieve knee pain are usually delivered by physiotherapy services. However, these services are currently overstretched meaning patients often encounter long waits and short sessions. Making the most of technology may help resolve this issue, (e)-rehabilitation programmes may be a useful and effective way to deliver exercise programmes to patients. This would mean that patients have easier access to support and feel more encouraged in their recovery, ultimately reducing the incidence of long-term knee pain.

How will the findings benefit people with arthritis?

Researchers will determine whether e-rehabilitation programmes are accepted by and useful for people with knee pain. If so, these programmes could be studied in a larger clinical trial, to see if they are would be successful and cost-effective for wider delivery in the NHS. E-rehabilitation programmes such as these have the potential to change the lives of people with knee pain, allowing them to remain active, independent and free from pain, by providing support and training to equip individuals to more effectively manage their knee pain.