Public Defence: Elisabeth Thornes

Msc Elisabeth Thornes at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis “Physical function in patients with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis.” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Photo: Gunhild M. Ohna

Trial Lecture – time and place

See Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Professor Jan Hartvigsen, University of Southern Denmark
  • Second opponent: Associate Professor Monica Unsgaard-Tøndel, NTNU
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Emeritus Erik Bautz-Holter, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Professor Emeritus Grete Botten, Univeristy of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Professor Nina Køpke Vøllestad, University of Oslo


The purpose of the study was to provide a better basis in managing the patients with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) in physiotherapy settings, both in identifying applicable physical performance tests associated with the patient’s self-reported function and in exploring the efficacy of a low impact exercise program. 

A total of 105 persons participated. To examine the association between performance tests and self-reported symptoms and function, a cross-sectional design was chosen. The Swiss spinal stenosis questionnaire was used as the main measure for disease burden. 30 s Sit-to-Stand, One-Leg-Stand, Stair Climb and Mini-BESTest were used to assess different aspects of physical function.  Linear and logistic regression analyses were completed to assess the strength in the associations. 

A group of the participants with severe walking disability contributed in a non-randomized two parallel groups, pilot study to examine the efficacy of a low-impact exercise program.   The main outcomes were leg-strength and leg pain. The statistical analyses used were T-tests for independent samples at follow-up.

The results indicate that the performance tests –provide applicable assessments of physical function in patients with LSS. The Mini-BESTest, a comprehensive balance test, seemed to capture balance problems and also to identify limitations in the underlying balance control systems in these patients. Since these tests are easy to administer, they may be useful tools in clinical practice for guiding physiotherapy interventions. 
The result of the low-impact exercise programme resulted in statistically significant improvement in leg pain, but no improvement in leg strength. The results suggest that the most disabled patients can safely, attend a low-impact exercise programme in order to maintain their physical capacity, without any risk of adverse effects. Our results suggest that an individualized program with higher impact could be investigated.

Additional information

Contact the research support staff.

Published Jan. 31, 2020 2:23 PM - Last modified Jan. 31, 2020 4:14 PM