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Osteoarthritis cannot slow us down

Few health concerns weigh more heavily on an older adult than fear of losing her independence. Men and women may worry about becoming disabled as a result of falling, osteoarthritis or increasing frailty. Often, women are the most susceptible to falling and fear of falling, but that is not the right mentality to have. New research has shown that even some of the frailest elderly women can increase strength, balance and even bone density.In people with knee osteoarthritis (OA), tolerance for power training and the benefits of its use have not been explored. There has been no published research that had yet to examine the effect of power training in older adults with knee OA. One study randomized three-group with 33 participants, they found that for older adults with knee OA, power training and resistance training performed 3 times per week for 12 weeks resulted in similar improvements in function. While power training improved muscle power and muscle speed to a greater extent than resistance training, there was not a significant difference in improvement in function and pain between training modalities.
Pelletier (2013) explored the feasibility and efficacy of using a power training exercise program for the quadriceps femoris (QF) in elderly women with knee osteoarthritis (OA). A one-group quasi-experimental design with pre- and post-intervention measurements was conducted on 17 older adult women with knee OA pain. A bilateral QF exercise program (24 sessions over 8 weeks) consisting of 3 series of 10 repetitions of flexion-extension as fast as possible at 40% of their one-repetition maximum (1RM) was performed in an outpatient physiotherapy clinic. The primary outcome measures were the knee function and associated problems using the Knee injury Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) questionnaire and the weekly mean pain score from pain diaries using a visual analogue scale (VAS). QF strength (QFS), power (QFP) and work (QFW) were measured with an isokinetic dynamometer as secondary outcomes. Significant improvements were noted on the five categories of the KOOS. Significant decrease was noted in pain intensity on VAS. QFP and QFW increased significantly on both sides. Exercise compliance was 99.5% for 16 participants. A short power-training exercise program is a feasible training modality for patients with knee OA, and significant functional improvements can be achieved. Further studies must be conducted to better understand the effects of the program parameters and the generalizability of the findings. The results show that power training 3 times a week for 8 weeks is a positive treatment modality for women aged 50 to 70 years old.. Given the positive results of the participants and the feasibility of the exercise regimen described, the use of this mode of resistance training should be considered in the management of people with knee OA. Further studies need to be done to better understand the most effective program parameters and the response traditional resistance training used with this population.
Power training with elastic bands is a positive and promising treatment modality for older women with knee OA. Demonstrated improvements in participants’ muscle power, pain, and self-reported functional status were achieved with a relatively short (3×/wk for 8 wk) one-on-one supervised training program that could be adapted as a home-based program.
At COR, we provide our patients with the best possible physical therapy care. Our rehabilitation treatment philosophy combines cutting edge techniques with years of clinical experience. We have no assistants or aides, so each treatment session consists of 30 – 45 minutes of one-on-one time with a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy.
We create unique and effective rehabilitation programs for patients of all ages and activity levels; from children to professional athletes to seniors. It is this combination of versatility and excellence that has resulted in a practice where over 90% of our business comes from referrals from previous patients, a practice where entire families and extended families have been treated.

1. Pelletier D, Gingras-Hill C, Boissy P. Power training in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a pilot study on feasibility and efficacy. Physiother Can. 2013 Spring;65(2):176-82.

Written by Chris Barber, CPT