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Juvenile Arthritis and Exercise Therapy: Current Research and Future Considerations

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is a chronic condition affecting significant numbers of children and young adults. Symptoms such as pain and swelling can lead to secondary conditions such as altered movement patterns and decreases in physical activity, range of motion, aerobic capacity, and strength. Exercise therapy has been an increasingly utilized component of treatment which addresses both primary and secondary symptoms. The objective of this paper was too give an overview of the current research on different types of exercise therapies, their measurements, and outcomes, as well as to make recommendations for future considerations and research. After defining the objective, articles involving patients with JIA and exercise or physical activity-based interventions were identified through electronic databases and bibliographic hand search of the existing literature. In all, nineteen articles were identified for inclusion. Studies involved patients affected by multiple subtypes of arthritis, mostly of lower body joints. Interventions ranged from light systems of movement like Pilates to an intense individualized neuromuscular training program. None of the studies exhibited notable negative effects beyond an individual level, and most produced positive outcomes, although the significance varied. Exercise and physical activity do not worsen the symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis; in fact, they can be extremely beneficial in helping address both the primary symptoms of pain and swelling, and the secondary issues related to range of motion, cardiovascular fitness, and strength. Incorporation of an individual-specific activity plan should be strongly be considered as an integral part of a treatment plan.


Susan Basile

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