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Specific strength training compared with interdisciplinary counseling for girls with tension-type headache: a randomized controlled trial

Authors Tornoe B, Andersen LL, Skotte JH, Jensen R, Jensen C, Madsen BK, Gard G, Skov L, Hallström I

Received 8 October 2015

Accepted for publication 4 December 2015

Published 4 May 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 257—270

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S97826

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Kerui Gong

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael E Schatman


Video abstract presented by Dr Birte Tornoe.

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Birte Tornøe,1–4 Lars L Andersen,5,6 Jørgen H Skotte,5 Rigmor Jensen,7 Claus Jensen,8 Bjarne K Madsen,7 Gunvor Gard,1 Liselotte Skov,2 Inger Hallström,1

1Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; 2Department of Pediatrics E, Children’s Headache Clinic, University of Copenhagen, Herlev and Gentofte Hospitals, Copenhagen, Denmark; 3Department of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, University of Copenhagen, Glostrup Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark; 4Department of Physiotherapy, University of Copenhagen, Herlev and Gentofte Hospitals, Copenhagen, Denmark; 5National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark; 6Physical Activity and Human Performance group, SMI, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; 7Department of Neurology, Danish Headache Centre, University of Copenhagen, Glostrup Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark; 8Huge Consulting, ApS, Haslev, Denmark

Background: Childhood tension-type headache (TTH) is a prevalent and debilitating condition for the child and family. Low-cost nonpharmacological treatments are usually the first choice of professionals and parents. This study examined the outcomes of specific strength training for girls with TTH.
Methods: Forty-nine girls aged 9–18 years with TTH were randomized to patient education programs with 10 weeks of strength training and compared with those who were counseled by a nurse and physical therapist. Primary outcomes were headache frequency, intensity, and duration; secondary outcomes were neck–shoulder muscle strength, aerobic power, and pericranial tenderness, measured at baseline, after 10 weeks intervention, and at 12 weeks follow-up. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaires were assessed at baseline and after 24 months.
Results: For both groups, headache frequency decreased significantly, P=0.001, as did duration, P=0.022, with no significant between-group differences. The odds of having headache on a random day decreased over the 22 weeks by 0.65 (0.50–0.84) (odds ratio [95% confidence interval]). For both groups, neck extension strength decreased significantly with a decrease in cervicothoracic extension/flexion ratio to 1.7, indicating a positive change in muscle balance. In the training group, shoulder strength increased ≥10% in 5/20 girls and predicted VO2max increased ≥15% for 4/20 girls. In the training group, 50% of girls with a headache reduction of ≥30% had an increase in VO2max >5%. For the counseling group, this was the case for 29%. A 24-month follow-up on HRQOL for the pooled sample revealed statistically significant improvements. Fifty-five percent of the girls reported little to none disability.
Conclusion: The results indicate that both physical health and HRQOL can be influenced significantly by physical exercise and nurse counseling. More research is needed to examine the relationship between physical exercise, VO2max, and TTH in girls. Thus, empowering patient education to promote maximum possible outcomes for all children needs more attention.

Keywords: empowering patient education, neck and shoulder muscles, muscular fitness, cardiovascular fitness, headache, child, health and physical therapy 

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