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Joint Scoring using the Haemophilia Joint Health Score System The above results were supported by researchers from the UK.54 In 39


boys with severe haemophilia (mean age 10 years, range four to 18) who were receiving primary prophylaxis at 25–40IU/kg at least twice weekly for haemophilia B and three times weekly for haemophilia A, the HJHS ranged between zero and 22, with a tendency to increase progressively with age. Mean values ranged from one in boys four to six years of age to four in boys 14–18 years of age (p=0.08). The HJHS was less than eight in all boys eight years of age and under.


Discussion


The HJHS provides a new clinical measure of joint structure and function in children four to 18 years of age.55


It was created to provide


a reliable international measure for quantifying joint damage in children with haemophilia. As seen from the above-mentioned studies, the results of the HJHS have been proved to be highly reliable.8,47 Furthermore, the HJHS was also validated by the International Haemophilia Prophylaxis Study Group.49


The findings reported in


these studies should be considered in the light of possible limitations since the physiotherapists participating in the studies were highly experienced and personally involved in the development of the HJHS. On the other hand, the HJHS has now been taught in workshops worldwide and appears to be easily adopted, even by physiotherapists with limited experience in haemophilia.49


The results of the studies published to date indicate that the new joint assessment tool enables the detection of subtle and early signs of joint damage in intensively treated boys, and also illustrates the differences among patients with mild, moderate and severe haemophilia based on HJHS. This was demonstrated mainly in the studied subjects with severe haemophilia on prophylactic treatment in countries where factor concentrates were widely available. It is a reasonable group to study since the HJHS was designed specifically to be sensitive for mild joint changes in patients receiving prophylaxis. However, the application of the HJHS tool in a study of patients with severe haemophilia who were exclusively receiving treatment on demand demonstrated that the HJHS is also a useful and effective tool in evaluating musculoskeletal outcome following an on-demand- based treatment approach in patients with existing joint damage. This


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Joint abnormalities were minimal on examination using the HJHS in very young children – even those receiving on-demand treatment. This observation could lead to the erroneous assumption that episodic therapy in young children with haemophilia is somehow effective. Furthermore, the HJHS was found to increase progressively with age even in boys with severe haemophilia who were receiving prophylaxis.54


This observation supports the usefulness of the HJHS in clinical practice to monitor joint status in children receiving prophylaxis.


Conclusions


In this era of prophylaxis, a joint evaluation system that is capable of detecting early and subtle changes in joint health and function is of paramount importance. The HJHS is a sensitive, reliable and valid tool; however, it needs further evaluation in different patient populations and in centres that were not involved in its design to assess its applicability and usefulness in clinical practice and research. Furthermore, a case–control comparative study of clinical outcomes using the HJHS in paediatric severe haemophilia patients treated with prophylaxis compared with those managed by on-demand treatment would be valuable to extend our understanding of the HJHS in normal and damaged joints. n


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17. Manco-Johnson MJ, Pettersson H, Petrini P, et al., Physical therapy and imaging outcome measures in a haemophilia population treated with factor prophylaxis: current status and future directions, Haemophilia, 2004;10(Suppl. 4):88–93.


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19. Roosendaal G, Jansen NW, Schutgens R, Lafeber FP, Haemophilic arthropathy: the importance of the earliest haemarthroses and consequences for treatment, Haemophilia, 2008;14(Suppl. 6):4–10.


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28. Lundin B, Ljung R, Pettersson H, MRI scores of ankle joints in children with haemophilia – comparison with clinical data, Haemophilia, 2005;11:116–22.


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EUROPEAN ONCOLOGY & HAEMATOLOGY 79


confirmed that joint damage develops slowly, over decades. The HJHS increased as a sign of progressing haemophilic arthropathy, which seemed to occur from the age of 10 onwards.


Findings based on the HJHS also suggested that the HJHS tool may be sensitive to the progression of joint disease with age in haemophilia. An HJHS utility study in episodically treated boys with severe haemophilia53


shows that the new instrument might be equally appropriate for screening children on prophylactic treatment as well as those using on-demand regimens. The findings from these studies showed that scores were higher in patients using treatment on demand compared with prophylaxis. However, in order to understand the influence of different treatment regimens or management as determined by the HJHS, studies with higher numbers of patients are required. It remains to be seen how the HJHS should be interpreted in different treatment populations with haemophilia.


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