New app to help patients with back pain

London, Feb 28 (IANS) Researchers at a European university are developing a new app coupled with a wristband to help patients with back pain figure out the right exercises for them.

“If this proves effective, we’ll have a very cost-effective solution that can ease everyday life for many patients with back pain,” said Paul Jarle Mork, a professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Named selfBACK, the project recently received a five million euro funding from the European Union.

By combining the scientific understanding of back pain with cutting-edge technology, researchers are trying to create a decision support system based on data collected via a wristband and a smartphone app, according to NTNU.

“The wristband captures an individual’s physical activity, heart rate, and number of steps taken. Based on the data generated from the band and the app, we can advise the patient on physical activity and sleep, for example, which are two critical aspects related to back problems,” said Mork, who is the main coordinator of the project.

Kerstin Bach, a researcher at NTNU is the driving force on the data side, while professor Agnar Aamodt is the head of research.

The project mission is to implement a form of artificial intelligence. This will be built using open source code, and will collect critical data from the patient. This continuous data collection forms the entire basis for the decision support system that will provide personalised advice to each individual.

“Patients should be able to go into the app and see how and why they should follow the advice given. These suggestions are based on the patient’s background information and all the information collected by the individual’s wristband and app,” Bach said.

Over the next five years, a team of international researchers will be working on the selfBACK project.

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