Exercise for People with Scleroderma Webinar

Tuesday, 13 June 2023 12:00pm - 1:30pm AEST

Exercise as Adjunctive Therapy in People with Scleroderma Webinar

This webinar will discuss the pathophysiology, common treatments, and evidence of exercise in scleroderma and provide you with practical exercise considerations for when you are working with someone with scleroderma.

Systemic sclerosis (SSc), also called scleroderma, is a heterogeneous multisystem autoimmune disease characterised by excessive collagen production and infiltration causing organ and skin fibrosis, and vascular injury. The hallmark features of SSc are thickening or hardening of the skin and internal organs which can lead to complications such as pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, renal failure, or gastrointestinal complications. 

SSc is a rare disease with an estimated overall prevalence of 17.6 to 23 cases per 100 000 persons, and an overall incident rate of 1.4 cases per 100 000 persons per year. Although physical activity is considered important for health benefits in all people and those with an autoimmune disease, data from a large SSc national cohort demonstrated that approximately 50% of people with SSc are physically inactive. People with SSc experience a wide array of barriers that may impede their engagement in exercise. Joint stiffness and contractures, shortness of breath, fatigue, and pain are some examples of barriers that have been identified for people with SSc to engage in exercise. Considering there are currently no curative pharmacological treatments available for people with SSc, exercise along with other non-pharmaceutical interventions is a possible way to ease the disease burden and improve physical function and health related quality of life (HRQOL). However, there is limited information and specific guidelines about non-pharmacological care in SSc, including exercise. This is largely due to heterogeneity in interventions, and outcomes, and because the studied samples are in many cases small. More intervention studies, with more participants with SSc, is warranted to improve our understanding about the effectiveness and safety of exercise in SSc.

Presented by Stephanie Frade, AES, AEP