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PEDro announces the 15 most influential trials in physical therapy

The Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) has identified the most important trials to have influenced the practice of physical therapy. They include studies in back pain, sports injuries, ageing, stress incontinence and pulmonary and stroke rehabilitation.

PEDro, which is an official professional partner of WCPT, indexes reports of more than 28,000 guidelines, trials and reviews and has published the list to celebrate its 15th anniversary. It compiled the list having asked PEDro users to nominate the most significant physical therapy trials ever published. Nominations were judged by a panel of international physiotherapy trialists.

“The randomised controlled trial is the backbone of evidence based physiotherapy,” said PEDro Manager Anne Moseley of the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney, where PEDro is based. 

“These are ground-breaking trials that changed the way people are treated for a variety of conditions seen by physiotherapists and other health professionals. Some set the stage for breakthroughs, some represent a paradigm shift, and all of them mark important milestones in the evolution of physiotherapy treatment.”

The 15 top trials are:

Efficacy of traction for non-specific low back pain: a randomised clinical trial (1995)

Comparison of stratified primary care management of low back pain with current best practice (STarT Back): a randomised controlled trial (2011)

The effectiveness of the McKenzie method in addition to first-line care for acute low back pain: a randomized controlled trial (2010)

Assessment of diclofenac or spinal manipulative therapy, or both, in addition to recommended first-line treatment for acute low back pain: a randomised controlled trial (2007)

Randomised controlled trial for evaluation of fitness programme for patients with chronic low back pain (1995)

Mobilisation with movement and exercise, corticosteroid injection, or wait and see for tennis elbow: randomised trial (2006)

Ultrasound-guided extracorporeal shock wave therapy for plantar fasciitis. A randomized controlled trial (2002)

Exercises to prevent lower limb injuries in youth sports: cluster randomised controlled trial (2005)

Additional task-related practice improves mobility and upper limb function early after stroke: a randomised controlled trial (2004)

Effect of constraint-induced movement therapy on upper extremity function 3 to 9 months after stroke: the EXCITE randomized clinical trial (2006)

Physiotherapy for Bell's palsy (1958)

An early rehabilitation intervention to enhance recovery during hospital admission for an exacerbation of chronic respiratory disease: randomised controlled trial (2014)

Early physical and occupational therapy in mechanically ventilated, critically ill patients: a randomised controlled trial (2009)

Single blind, randomised controlled trial of pelvic floor exercises, electrical stimulation, vaginal cones, and no treatment in management of genuine stress incontinence in women (1999)

High-intensity functional exercise program and protein-enriched energy supplement for older persons dependent in activities of daily living: a randomised controlled trial (2006)

“This is a fascinating list,” said Tracy Bury, WCPT’s Director of Professional Policy. “Not everyone will agree with it, but it is a great illustration of how gathering evidence from high quality research has changed the practice of physical therapy for the benefit of patients.”

“WCPT is proud of its professional partnership with PEDro. We believe that it is an essential resource that informs evidence based physical therapy worldwide, and helps provide better services for those needing physical therapy. We’d like to congratulate PEDro and the team involved from the beginning on their 15th anniversary.”

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