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Real-time telerehabilitation for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions is effective and comparable to standard practice: a systematic review and meta-analysis [with consumer summary]
Cottrell MA, Galea OA, O'Leary SP, Hill AJ, Russell TG
Clinical Rehabilitation 2017 May;31(5):625-638
systematic review

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of treatment delivered via real-time telerehabilitation for the management of musculoskeletal conditions, and to determine if real-time telerehabilitation is comparable to conventional methods of delivery within this population. DATA SOURCES: Six databases (Medline, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL, PEDro, psycINFO, CINAHL) were searched from inception to November 2015 for literature which reported on the outcomes of real-time telerehabilitation for musculoskeletal conditions. REVIEW METHODS: Two reviewers screened 5,913 abstracts where 13 studies (n = 1,520) met the eligibility criteria. Methodological quality was assessed using the Downs and Black 'Checklist for Measuring Quality' tool. Results were pooled for meta-analysis based upon primary outcome measures and reported as standardised mean differences and 95% confidence intervals (CI). RESULTS: Aggregate results suggest that telerehabilitation is effective in the improvement of physical function (SMD 1.63, 95%CI 0.92 to 2.33, I2 = 93%), whilst being slightly more favourable (SMD 0.44, 95%CI 0.19 to 0.69, I2 = 58%) than the control cohort following intervention. Sub-group analyses reveals that telerehabilitation in addition to usual care is more favourable (SMD 0.64, 95%CI 0.43 to 0.85, I2 = 10%) than usual care alone, whilst treatment delivered solely via telerehabilitation is equivalent to face-to-face intervention (SMD MD 0.14, 95% CI -0.10 to 0.37, I2 = 0%) for the improvement of physical function. The improvement of pain was also seen to be comparable between cohorts (SMD 0.66, 95%CI -0.27 to 1.60, I2 = 96%) following intervention. CONCLUSIONS: Real-time telerehabilitation appears to be effective and comparable to conventional methods of healthcare delivery for the improvement of physical function and pain in a variety of musculoskeletal conditions.

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