Therapist offers suggestions for PT treatments of scleroderma

Case studies offer evidence of effectiveness

Scleroderma is a rare disease characterized by the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. In some people, the condition affects only the skin; in others it may involve other tissues and organs such as the blood vessels, muscles, lungs, kidneys, and digestive tract. In such cases, it can lead to symptoms that make it difficult for patients to stay active.

Recent case studies, one involving a 35-year-old patient and another using a 71-year-old patient, suggest physical therapy can be a useful tool in treatment of scleroderma by lessening pain, improving movement ability, and adding muscle strength in the body and hands.

According to Scleroderma News, PTs may recommend stretches of the shoulders, elbows, wrists, neck, fingers, and back. Stretching exercises usually are done three times a day and held for 10 seconds each for optimal benefit.

Mild exercises that can help patients with scleroderma include walking, cycling, and using an elliptical machine.
These raise the heart rate, while strengthening the heart and increasing endurance, while also encouraging mobility of the limbs and body and helping with digestion.

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