Effectiveness of Home-Based Exercises Without Supervision by Physical Therapists for Patients With Early-Stage Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Pilot Study

Published:March 30, 2018DOI:



      To verify the effects of structured home-based exercises without supervision by a physical therapist in patients with early-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


      A historical controlled study that is part of a multicenter collaborative study.


      Rehabilitation departments at general hospitals and outpatient clinics with a neurology department.


      Patients (N=21) with ALS were enrolled and designated as the home-based exercise (Home-EX) group, and they performed unsupervised home-based exercises. As a control group, 84 patients with ALS who underwent supervised exercise with a physical therapist for 6 months were extracted from a database of patients with ALS and matched with the Home-EX group in terms of their basic attributes and clinical features.


      The Home-EX group was instructed to perform structured home-based exercises without supervision by a physical therapist that consisted of muscle stretching, muscle training, and functional training for 6 months.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The primary outcome was the score on the ALS Functional Rating Scale–Revised (ALSFRS-R), which is composed of 3 domains: bulbar function, limb function, and respiratory function. The score ranges from 0 to 48 points, with a higher score indicating better function.


      In the Home-EX group, 15 patients completed the home-based exercises for 6 months, and 6 patients dropped out because of medical reasons or disease progression. No adverse events were reported. The Home-EX group was found to have a significantly higher respiratory function subscore and total score on the ALSFRS-R than the control group at follow-up (P<.001 and P<.05, respectively).


      Structured home-based exercises without supervision by a physical therapist could be used to alleviate functional deterioration in patients with early-stage ALS.


      List of abbreviations:

      ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), ALSFRS-R (ALS Functional Rating Scale–Revised), CPF (cough peak flow), Home-EX (home-based exercise), MMT (manual muscle testing)
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