Current practice, guideline adherence, and barriers to implementation for Achilles tendinopathy rehabilitation: a survey of physical therapists and people with Achilles tendinopathy

Kohle Merry, Megan M MacPherson, Paul Blazey, Angie Fearon, Michael Hunt, Dylan Morrissey, Christopher Napier, Duncan Reid, Jackie L Whittaker, Richard W Willy, Alex Scott

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To explore clinical practice patterns of physical therapists (PTs) who treat people with Achilles tendinopathy (AT), and identify perceived barriers and facilitators for prescribing and engaging with therapeutic exercise among PTs and people with AT.

METHODS: Two cross-sectional surveys were electronically distributed between November 2021 and May 2022; one survey was designed for PTs while the second was for people with AT. Survey respondents answered questions regarding their physical therapy training and current practice (PTs), injury history and management (people with AT), and perceived barriers and facilitators (PTs and people with AT).

RESULTS: 341 PTs and 74 people with AT completed the surveys. In alignment with clinical practice guidelines, more than 94% of PTs surveyed (97% of whom had some form of advanced musculoskeletal training) prioritise patient education and therapeutic exercise. Patient compliance, patient knowledge, and the slow nature of recovery were barriers to prescribing therapeutic exercise reported by PTs, while time, physical resources, and a perceived lack of short-term treatment effectiveness were barriers for people with AT.

CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with clinical practice guidelines, PTs with advanced training reported prioritising therapeutic exercise and education for managing AT. However, both PTs and people with AT identified many barriers to prescribing or engaging with therapeutic exercise. By addressing misconceptions about the time burden and ineffectiveness of exercise, and by overcoming access issues to exercise space and equipment, PTs may be able to improve intervention adherence and subsequently outcomes for people with AT.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001678
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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