Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Future of Disability Management: Researchers Use Fitbits to Monitor & Predict Back Surgery Recovery Time

This is from Greg Goth at Health Data Management (H/T to Ryan Kennedy):
Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco, New York University, and Northwestern Medicine are monitoring physical activity using Fitbit trackers in an ongoing study to better predict recovery over time for patients who undergo spine surgery. 
During the four weeks before a surgery and for six months afterward, the Fitbits will capture personal data on a patient’s steps and activity levels. 
“An activity monitor allows us to have an objective, numerically exact and continuous measure of activity. This can show exactly how much function a patient has regained and, critically, when and if it occurs during the recovery period,” said Zachary Smith, M.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern and a principal investigator of the study. “This may allow us to predict when a patient will be back to 50 percent activity, 100 percent activity or even 200 percent activity in the future.” ...
“We’ve already seen how surgery changes activity in our first patients,” he said. “It appears that almost all patients go through a four- to six-week period where their activity is decreased. Just over a month out from many of the surgeries, they get back to their pre-operative level. Then they slowly continue to climb to new levels of activity that they could never have reached before.” ...