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Effect of weight-bearing activity on foot ulcer incidence in people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy: feet first randomized controlled trial.

Lemaster JW, Mueller MJ, Reiber GE, Mehr DR, Madsen RW, Conn VS. Effect of weight-bearing activity on foot ulcer incidence in people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy: feet first randomized controlled trial. Physical Therapy. 2008 Nov 1; 88(11):1385-98.

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BACKGROUND: Weight-bearing exercise has been contraindicated among people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DM+PN). However, recent cohort studies have suggested that daily weight-bearing activity is associated with lower risk for foot ulceration. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of a lower-extremity exercise and walking intervention program on weight-bearing activity and foot ulcer incidence in people with DM+PN. DESIGN: This was an observer-blinded, 12-month randomized controlled trial. SETTING: The settings were physical therapy offices in part 1 of the intervention and the community in part 2 of the intervention. PARTICIPANTS: The participants were 79 individuals with DM+PN who were randomly assigned either to a control group (n = 38) or an intervention group (n = 41) group. INTERVENTION: Intervention components included leg strengthening and balance exercises; a graduated, self-monitored walking program (part 1); and motivational telephone calls every 2 weeks (part 2). Both groups received diabetic foot care education, regular foot care, and 8 sessions with a physical therapist. MEASUREMENTS: Total and exercise bout-related daily steps at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months were measured by accelerometers. Foot lesions/ulcers were photographed and classified by an independent panel of dermatologists. Use of adequate footwear was monitored. RESULTS: At 6 months, bout-related daily steps increased 14% from baseline in the intervention group and decreased 6% from baseline in the control group. Although the groups did not differ statistically in the change in total daily steps, at 12 months steps had decreased by 13% in the control group. Foot ulcer rates did not differ significantly between groups. CONCLUSION: Promoting weight-bearing activity did not lead to significant increases in foot ulcers. Weight-bearing activity can be considered following adequate assessment and counseling of patients with DM+PN.

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