With aging, degenerative changes occur in the axial skeleton. These changes may be the cause of pain and dysfunction. Home cervical traction is often prescribed for patients with neck pain, although the ability of the elderly to learn and apply this treatment correctly has not been established. The purpose of our study was to 1) determine if the elderly can learn and apply home cervical traction correctly, 2) to compare their ability to apply the Over-the-Door device with their ability to apply the HomeTrac® device, 3) to determine if the elderly prefer. one device over the other.
Our subjects consisted of 21 volunteers over 65 years of age from a local retirement community. The subjects were instructed in traction with the two devices and were tested for correct application immediately, five minutes, and two days after instruction. Our results showed that all of the subjects applied Over-the-Door traction correctly and 86% applied HomeTrac® traction correctly immediately following instructions, according to our original performance rating method. During the two-day retention test, 70% of the subjects demonstrated learning when using the Over-the-Door device and 57% of the subjects demonstrated learning when using the HomeTrac®. Due to questions that arose during data collection, an alternative performance rating method was developed which showed that 71 % of the subjects applied traction correctly with the HomeTrac®, and 38% demonstrated the retention test that learning had occurred with this device. For the Over-the-Door device, the alternative performance rating method showed that 25% could perform traction correctly, although no subjects demonstrated during the retention test that learning had occurred. As a group, our subjects did not prefer one device over the other.
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