• University of Exeter

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Exercises for Hands

This course is for people having hand function problems due to rheumatoid arthritis

1,009 enrolled on this course

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Exercises for Hands
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

Explore the impact of rheumatoid arthritis and how SARAH can help patients

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term joint disease and often involves the small joints of the hands and wrists. Hand exercises play an important role in improving the ability to do day-to-day activities.

On this course, you’ll learn about an evidence-based hand and arm exercise programme called Strengthening and Stretching for the Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand (SARAH), and how you can successfully implement it as a healthcare professional.

Discover how to apply the SARAH programme to treat rheumatoid arthritis in your clinical setting

The SARAH programme was shown to improve hand function and quality of life in a large UK based clinical trial. It is recommended in the national treatment guidelines for adults with rheumatoid arthritis (NICE guidelines NG 100).

On the course, you’ll get an introduction on how rheumatoid arthritis affects hand function, explore how the SARAH programme was developed, and understand how you can apply it in your clinical setting.

Identify how to use the SARAH programme in your practice

You’ll also discover how to use and teach behavioural support strategies to your patients.

You’ll study alongside multidisciplinary experts who are dedicated to using exercise and physiotherapy to help care for people with long-term musculoskeletal conditions.

At the end of this two-week course, you’ll come away confidently able to deliver the SARAH programme in your clinical practice.


  • Week 1

    The SARAH programme

    • Welcome!

      An introduction to the course and the course team.

    • Rheumatoid arthritis

      In this activity, we will cover the clinical aspects of rheumatoid arthritis affecting the hands and wrists and the usual treatment guidelines in managing rheumatoid arthritis.

    • The SARAH clinical trial

      This step covers the background information of the clinical trial that evaluated the SARAH programme in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

    • The SARAH exercises

      In this step, we will have an overview of the SARAH exercises targeted to improve hand function in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

    • Behavioural strategies

      This covers the behavioural strategies of the SARAH programme that includes goal-setting, confidence building, action planning and self-monitoring using Personal Exercise Guide and Exercise Diary.

    • Week 1 summary

      We present a summary of key messages from this week as well as an opportunity to share your experiences.

  • Week 2

    How to deliver the SARAH programme in clinical practice?

    • Getting started

      In this activity, we provide an overview of the number of sessions required to deliver the SARAH programme in practice and the components of the first SARAH session.

    • Second session

      In this activity, we explain how to deliver the second SARAH session in practice.

    • Progression and regression of exercises

      In this activity, we introduce the progression and regression plan for the SARAH exercises.

    • Subsequent sessions and discharge

      In this activity, we look at delivering the subsequent SARAH sessions (3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th) in practice.

    • Week 2 summary

      In this activity, we include a summary, a short self-evaluation to refresh your learning on how to apply the SARAH programme in practice and an opportunity to reflect on your own confidence and clinical practice.

    • Course evaluation

      In this section, course learners will be invited to sign-up for an optional SARAH course evaluation study.

    • Congratulations!

      Congratulations to those who completed the course!

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on hand function
  • Summarise how the SARAH programme was developed
  • Apply the SARAH programme in your clinical setting
  • Demonstrate behavioural support strategies to patients
  • Reflect on implementing the SARAH exercises and behavioural support strategies in your clinical practice

Who is the course for?

This course is for all healthcare professionals who treat people having hand function problems due to rheumatoid arthritis.

Who will you learn with?

Esther is a physiotherapist and researcher at the University of Oxford. She is Deputy-Director of the Centre for Rehabilitation Research.

I am a physiotherapy researcher at the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford.

Mireille Gillings Professor of Health Innovation at the University of Exeter.
I conduct large scale clinical trials and like to disseminate the findings to healthcare professionals via Futurelearn

Who developed the course?

University of Exeter

The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university. It combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction.

Endorsers and supporters

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