Foot-ankle therapeutic exercise program can improve gait speed in people with diabetic neuropathy: a randomized controlled trial

From lead author Reinan Monteiro and senior authors Isabel Sacco and Sicco Bus

This study sought to determine whether a foot-ankle therapeutic exercise program can improve daily physical activity (i.e. number of steps) and fast and self-selected gait speed in people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). In this single-blind randomized controlled trial and intention-to-treat analysis, 78 volunteers with DPN were allocated into a control group, which received usual care, and an intervention group (IG), which received usual care plus a 12-week foot-ankle exercise program. The adherence at 12 weeks rate in the IG was 92.3% (36 participants) and the dropout was 5.1% in the control group (2 participants). The number of steps and self-selected gait speed did not change significantly in either group (p > 0.05), although a 1,365-step difference between groups were observed at 1-year followup. The 12-week foot-ankle therapeutic exercises improved significantly fast-gait speed (primary outcome) (p = 0.020), ankle range of motion (p = 0.048), and vibration perception (secondary outcomes) (p = 0.030), compared with usual-care at 12 weeks. At 24 weeks, the IG showed better quality of life than controls (p = 0.048). At 1-year, fast-gait speed and vibration perception remained higher in the IG versus controls. Overall, the program may be a complementary treatment strategy for improving musculoskeletal and functional deficits related to DPN.Trial registration NCT02790931 (06/06/2016).

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