Smart watches in the treatment of Osteoarthritis 

Written by Billing Dynamix

Smartwatches are increasing in popularity selling an estimated 22.5 million units in the United States in 2020. With capabilities to monitor heart rate, activity, falls, sleep, and even an Electrocardiogram (ECG) it is easy to see the draw to include wearable technology in the care of patients.

One area of interest is in the care of individuals with osteoarthritis (OA). Ravalli et al. (2022), reiterates the finding that physical activity is strongly recommended for those with OA, however participation rates are low. The use of smartwatches can have a positive psychosocial effect on the individual by making them feel more involved in the rehabilitation program. Use of the smartwatch to facilitate daily communication between therapist and individual by surveys on their levels of pain, fatigue, and activities completed can be beneficial to both parties. The study found that questions should be quick and easy to answer to increase the rate of answering. The data can be accessed in real-time allowing the Physical Therapist to check on the progress of the patient and make contact if necessary. The implementation of smartwatches in the physical therapy program has been seen to increase the rates of physical activity participation with OA. 

Kurtz eat al. (2022) looked at whether individuals with OA or total hip arthroplasty would be willing to use smart watches to monitor their activity. They looked at operative and non-operative patients and found that they were both willing to use applications on their phone as an adjunct to therapy. The operative group were more likely to agree to use smartwatches. The operative group was also more likely to be willing to have the GPS location on while participating in physical activity. They noted that this may be due to the higher incidence of ownership of a smartwatch by the operative group (68%) and lower incidence by the non-operative (24%). Experience with wearable technology might be a driving factor on the willingness to use it in their programming. 

With the increasing use of smartwatches in the general public, and greater understanding of the technology, their involvement in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system is sure to increase as well. 

Sources: 

  • Kurtz SM, Higgs GB, Chen Z, et al. Patient Perceptions of Wearable and Smartphone Technologies for Remote Outcome Monitoring in Patients Who Have Hip Osteoarthritis or Arthroplasties. The Journal of Arthroplasty. Published online February 2022:S0883540322001553. doi:10.1016/j.arth.2022.02.026
  • Ravalli S, Roggio F, Lauretta G, et al. Exploiting real-world data to monitor physical activity in patients with osteoarthritis: the opportunity of digital epidemiology. Heliyon. 2022;8(2):e08991. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e08991