PhD Study Focuses On HIV-Neurological Comorbidity
A UKZN PhD study conducted by Dr Abdul Yakasai looked at the most common HIV-neurological comorbidity that affects both functions and quality of life.
Titled: Progressive resisted and aerobic exercises for the rehabilitation of patients with HIV-Related distal symmetrical polyneuropathy and their quality of life, the study earned Yakasai, who hails from Nigeria, a PhD degree in Physiotherapy under the supervision of Dr Sunil Maharaj. The study aimed to determine the effect of progressive resisted exercise (PRE) and Aerobic exercise (AE) on HIV-related DSPN symptoms and their health-related Quality of Life (HR-QoL).
He said the exercises have been consistently reported as one of the non-pharmacological therapies for rehabilitation of individuals with HIV, but little is known about an exercise programme on HIV-related DSPN symptoms.
The study concluded that PRE and AE are able to positively improve the symptoms of HIV-related DSPN such as pain intensity, balance impairment, gait disturbance, as well as domains of HR-QoL. This study supports the use of PRE or AE as an adjuvant to chemotherapy to rehabilitate People living with HIV (PLWHIV)-related DSPN,’ declared Yakasai.
According to Yakasai, this was the first study to compare aerobic and progressive resisted exercise using moderate intensity in persons with HIV related neuropathy symptoms (pain, walking disturbances, balance impairment and quality of life). He said chemotherapies often are useful for treating neuropathic pain, yet have not demonstrated any benefit for improving strength, gait disturbance, balance impairment, or quality of life. ‘Hence, the summation of chemotherapy to treat neurological comorbidity of HAART and HIV-infection is likely to further compromise the benefit of HAART,’ he said.
He believes his study is special because HIV/AIDS used to be a terminal disease, although the introduction of HAART has improved the survival of PLWHIV around the globe. ‘The neurological disorders however remain a portentous burden for HIV-positive people. The severe symptoms in patients with HIV-neuropathy can cause activity limitation, restricted participation, reduction in the quality of life and subsequently a disability that requires rehabilitation,’ elaborated Yakasai.
Yakasai is currently preparing his manuscripts for publication. He plans to carry out another study on TB/HIV co-infection. ‘I also plan to apply for the post-doctoral fellowship post because I enjoyed working with my supervisor and plan to work with him in the future,’ said the Physical Therapist clinician who enjoys treating patients, especially those with neurological deficit.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal