A Lower Leg Physical Activity Intervention for Individuals With Chronic Venous Leg Ulcers: Randomized Controlled Trial

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Main idea: The findings of this study suggest that despite initial interest in using the app, several components of the program as originally designed had limited acceptability and feasibility. Future refinements should include the use of more modern technology including smaller wearable accelerometers, mobile phones or tablets with larger screens, an app designed with larger graphics, automated reporting for providers, and more engaging user features.

Abstract

Individuals with venous leg ulcers (VLUs) suffer disproportionately with multiple chronic conditions, are often physically deconditioned, and demonstrate high levels of physical inactivity.

The primary objective of this randomized controlled trial was to establish the feasibility of a mobile health (mHealth) physical activity exercise app for individuals with VLUs to improve lower leg function.

Results: A total of 24 patients were recruited, enrolled, and randomized in the study. Most patients reported difficulty following the protocol for exercising and using the accelerometer and mobile phone and did not use the provider contact feature. However, all patients were adherent to the 6-week exercise program more than 85% of the time for duration, whereas 33% (8/24) of patients adhered more than 85% for the frequency of performing the exercises. Across the three exercise levels, adherence did not differ between the two groups. Confidence limits around the difference in proportions ranged from -0.4 to 0.7. Providers in FOOTFIT+ were inconsistent in checking participant progress reports because of lack of time from competing work commitments. The technology became outdated quickly, making maintenance problematic. Participants said they would continue to exercise their foot and legs and liked being able to follow along with the demonstrations of each level of exercise provided through the app.

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