You may have come across a feasibility cohort study conducted by former PhD student Dr. Sanam Tavakkoli. I wanted to share some interesting findings from this study.
What we did:
Sanam followed 30 individuals who were undergoing community-based physiotherapy treatment for Achilles tendinopathy for a period of 12 weeks. She had them wear an IMU (inertial measurement unit) sensor for a week at baseline, and then again around 6 and 12 weeks. The aim was to determine whether we could monitor their physical activity (steps) and biomechanical surrogate measures during gait. The IMU is equipped with advanced components that accurately measure rotations and accelerations. We used swing acceleration as a surrogate measure of ankle propulsion, shank angular velocity at initial contact as a surrogate for impact, and peak stride rate as a surrogate for fastest walking speed.
What we found:
Surprisingly, the participants were happy to wear the IMU, and adherence was excellent (great job, Sanam!). This indicates that we can consider using IMUs to monitor physical activity for larger studies in the future.
We conducted preliminary data analysis and have summarized some key takeaways below:
Why is this important?
Although this is just a starting point, our data confirm the need for better measures of physical activity and to pay attention to whether individuals who experience 'recovery' from painful conditions like Achilles tendinopathy also return to their desired physical activities.
Clinical gems and awesome management models. Your patients will love you for it!