Exercises to minimise the discomforts of chik-V
A severe case of the chikungunya disease invariably results in excruciating joint pains and the inability to use the arms, legs, or both. The most effective way to restore the movement in the limbs is the application of pain medication and passive exercises.
Passive exercises are performed by having someone else manipulating your joints to move your body or body parts through a range of actions without your effort. Therefore, someone's help will be needed to administer the exercises.
Passive exercise is ideal for reducing joint stiffness, swelling, loss of movement, and speeding up the recovery process. These exercises reduce muscle spasm, rebuild muscle mass, strength, endurance and restore flexibility and coordination.
Passive exercises minimise the decline in body functions such as compromised elimination of body waste, poor circulation and the ravages of prolonged rest such as bone and muscle loss.
The exercise regime should be initiated as soon as the loss of movement is realised.
Have the patient sit or lie in a comfortable position with arms by the side. Lift patient's arm using the shoulder joint only; raise the right arm up in front as much as possible within the pain threshold, then return to initial position. Move the arm away from his/her side as far as possible, return to initial position. Move the arm around in a circular motion and increase the size of the circles within comfort level.
Using the elbow joint, bend and straighten the forearm to maximum range within pain threshold. With elbow bent, turn the forearm over so the palm faces down, then reverse to palm facing up.
Clasp the hand to make a fist and squeeze tight. Open the hand, spread the fingers and push them back as much as
possible without pain. Use the hand to make circles with the use of the wrist joint only. Repeat the routine with the left arm.
Use the left hip joint to lift the left leg upwards as much as possible within the pain threshold then return the leg to its resting position. Move the leg out to the side as much as possible then back to start position. Use the leg to make circles; increase size of circles gradually within pain threshold.
Have patient lie face down and bend the knee joint as much as possible within the threshold of pain. Return foreleg to original position.
Hold the ball of the foot and move the foot upward towards the shin, then move the foot in the opposite direction as far as possible without pain; return to normal position. Turn the sole of the foot in towards the next foot. Then turn the foot in the opposite direction so the sole is facing outwards. Use the ankle joint to move the foot in a circular direction. Repeat the complete routine with the next leg
Do each exercise about 10 times, and the complete routine about three times each session. Do a session in the morning, afternoon and evening daily.
n Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.