App-based supplemental exercise in rehabilitation, adherence, and effect on outcomes: a randomized controlled trial

Ingrid Li*, Tram Bui, Hoang T. Phan, Ana Llado, Clayton King, Katharine Scrivener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Question: To determine the uptake of an app-based supplemental exercise programme in a rehabilitation setting and the effect of such a programme on length of stay and function compared to usual care physiotherapy. 

Design: Randomized controlled trial with random allocation and assessor blinding. 

Participants: A total of 144 individuals with mixed diagnoses (orthopaedic, neurological, reconditioning) admitted for inpatient sub-acute rehabilitation. 

Interventions: Participants were randomly allocated to usual care physiotherapy (control group) or usual care physiotherapy with the addition of an app-based supplemental exercise programme (intervention group). 

Outcome measures: The primary measure of interest was total supplementary exercise dosage completed by the intervention group. The primary between-group outcome measure was length of stay with secondary measures including walking endurance (Six-Minute Walk Test), walking speed (10-Metre Walk Test), functional mobility (Timed Up and Go Test) and level of disability (Functional Independence Measure). 

Results: Participants in the intervention group performed 7 minutes (SD: 9) or 49 repetitions (SD: 48) of supplementary exercise using the app each day. There were no differences between the groups for length of stay (mean difference (MD): -0.5 days, 95% confidence interval (CI): -3.2 to 2.2) or change in any secondary functional outcome measures, including walking speed (MD: -0.1 m/s, 95% CI: -0.2 to 0.0) and disability (MD: -0.9, 95% CI: -3.6 to 1.8). 

Conclusion: A small supplementary exercise dose was achieved by participants in the intervention group. However, such a programme did not affect length of stay or functional outcomes when compared to usual care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1093
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number8
Early online date7 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • mHealth
  • exercise therapy
  • physical therapy
  • rehabilitation
  • outcomes

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