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37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Tracking Physical Rehabilitation with Smartphone App

Date & Time
Friday, March 18, 2022 - 11:20 AM PST  
Elite 1-3  
The increasing percentage of elderly people is a wonderful development of modern society. Unfortunately there is also a major downside: it also leads to more and more people with chronic diseases. To be more specific, the United Nations report that the percentage of people over the age of 65 years was 9% in 2019, 700 million people. In 2050 this segment will grow to 15.9% or 1.5 billion people. An example of a common chronic disease is osteoarthritis, which, according to the WHO, affects 10% of all people over the age of 65. So in 2050 there will be 150 million people worldwide who are affected by osteoarthritis alone. Combined with other ailments such as … this will put a huge strain on the healthcare system and, subsequently, on healthcare professionals. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists and physicians still largely rely on methods like visually evaluating patients and taking notes with pen and paper. Our long-term vision at Reha Buddy is to ensure that people stay mobile and healthy for as long as possible. Our short-term mission is to digitalize manual processes in physical rehabilitation in order to simplify and ease the workload of medical professionals and also to increase the transparency (of rehabilitation success) for patients. We are currently working closely with clinics, therapists and medical specialists and pilot our first products in clinics in Austria and Germany. This enables us to gather data and, most importantly, feedback from our (future) users. Technical Aspects We’re utilizing the built-in motion sensors (inertial measurement unit) of standard smartphones to collect motion data during walking and standardized movement tasks (so called assessments). The signal analysis algorithms within our Reha Buddy Android application evaluate this data and, thereby, we can automate the assessments’ documentation. With our app the smartphone becomes more than just a phone, it becomes what we like to call a “mobility monitor”. So far our mobility monitors have gathered data from 800 patients and we have processed feedback from 50 healthcare professionals in 5 different clinics in Austria and Germany. We’re continuously expanding our product/module/feature portfolio to implement more assessments and provide additional parameters where they are relevant. Results of current work During the pilots we stay in close contact with the users and also gather quantitative and qualitative feedback via small online surveys. In those we found that our app is used up to 5 times per week, that 82% were happy (2 on a scale from 1 -very happy - to 5 - unhappy -) concerning the usability. More than 90% of the users stated that our app's results reflect their observations. 73% found that the app integrates well into their daily routine. Positive effects of using the app were that it helps to prove effectiveness (of treatments), that it provides feedback on patients’ improvement and that it helps put the clinic in a modern light. One major issue was the demand to connect our app to the IT system or EHR (electronic health record). Especially during the first pilot we also received feedback with suggestions to improve the usability of certain functions. We also always ask for some sort of ranking of specific assessments in order to help us to prioritize future developments. Discussion The pilots so far showed us that there is great potential in digitalizing specific processes in physical rehabilitation. The challenges lie in also getting more skeptical on board by effectively demonstrating the benefits of digitalization in this field. User-friendliness and reliability are of the essence, not just because our products are medical devices, but because medical professionals in clinics are on a tight schedule and can’t lose momentum in their daily routine. We need and want to cross further borders, because healthcare systems are different in every country and we need to learn about those specifics fast.  
Healthcare & Rehabilitation
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
Reha Buddy provides a tool to digitalize manual processes in physical rehabilitation to simplify the workload of medical professionals and to increase transparency of rehabilitation success for patients. We will present how we achieved a user-centered approach with a medical device and the learnings that helped to improve our product.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Healthcare & Rehabilitation
  • Independent Living
  • Mobile Technology
  • Mobility


  • Harald Jagos
    Reha Buddy

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