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In JMIR research protocols ; h5-index 26.0

BACKGROUND : Physiotherapy is essential for the successful rehabilitation of common shoulder injuries and following shoulder surgery. Patients may receive some training and supervision for shoulder physiotherapy through private pay or private insurance, but they are typically responsible for performing most of their physiotherapy independently at home. It is unknown how often patients perform their home exercises and if these exercises are performed correctly without supervision. There are no established tools for measuring this. It is, therefore, unclear if the full benefit of shoulder physiotherapy treatments is being realized.

OBJECTIVE : The proposed research will (1) validate a smartwatch and machine learning (ML) approach for evaluating adherence to shoulder exercise participation and technique in a clinical patient population with rotator cuff pathology; (2) quantify the rate of home physiotherapy adherence, determine the effects of adherence on recovery, and identify barriers to successful adherence; and (3) develop and pilot test an ethically conscious adherence-driven rehabilitation program that individualizes patient care based on their capacity to effectively participate in their home physiotherapy.

METHODS : This research will be conducted in 2 phases. The first phase is a prospective longitudinal cohort study, involving 120 patients undergoing physiotherapy for rotator cuff pathology. Patients will be issued a smartwatch that will record 9-axis inertial sensor data while they perform physiotherapy exercises both in the clinic and in the home setting. The data collected in the clinic under supervision will be used to train and validate our ML algorithms that classify shoulder physiotherapy exercise. The validated algorithms will then be used to assess home physiotherapy adherence from the inertial data collected at home. Validated outcome measures, including the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire; Numeric Pain Rating Scale; range of motion; shoulder strength; and work status, will be collected pretreatment, monthly through treatment, and at a final follow-up of 12 months. We will then relate improvement in patient outcomes to measured physiotherapy adherence and patient baseline variables in univariate and multivariate analyses. The second phase of this research will involve the evaluation of a novel rehabilitation program in a cohort of 20 patients. The program will promote patient physiotherapy engagement via the developed technology and support adherence-driven care decisions.

RESULTS : As of December 2019, 71 patients were screened for enrollment in the noninterventional validation phase of this study; 65 patients met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Of these, 46 patients consented and 19 declined to participate in the study. Only 2 patients de-enrolled from the study and data collection is ongoing for the remaining 44.

CONCLUSIONS : This study will provide new and important insights into shoulder physiotherapy adherence, the relationship between adherence and recovery, barriers to better adherence, and methods for addressing them.


Burns David, Razmjou Helen, Shaw James, Richards Robin, McLachlin Stewart, Hardisty Michael, Henry Patrick, Whyne Cari


machine learning, rehabilitation, rotator cuff, treatment adherence and compliance, wearable electronic devices