Low back pain affects almost every citizen in Switzerland and around the world at least once during their life. It is a complex illness where the causes are not fully understood. Costly surgery should be avoided, but the diversity of the illness is a challenge for doctors to find effective treatments. A key step foward to better treatment solutions is to monitor a large number of individuals’ behaviour during entire low back pain episodes. Digital technologies including smartphones, wearable sensors and the internet make this possible.
The goal of the project is to use novel mobile health (mHealth) tools for identifying changes in low back pain of thousands of participating citizens. This goes along with the development of an appealing mHealth app to enable participants to assess and document their low back pain. Collecting important data form from a large group of volunteers, so called citizen scientists, allows the team to create information regarding how frequent low back pain happens and any patterns that might exist on an individual level. New experimental strategies will then be developed to test different methods that can prevent or reduce low back pain.
This is the first SNF project on big data in health care that Hocoma participates in. “We consider this project an important step for improving the situation of individuals with low back pain and appreciate the support from SNF for this project as well as for the whole big data program of the National Research Program.” says Dr. Lars Lünenburger, who is Hocoma’s representative within the project. “The collaboration of Hocoma with Swiss universities and clinics was and is an important factor for us.” adds Dr. Gery Colombo, CEO of Hocoma. “We are looking forward to the collaboration with Prof. Walter Karlen and our partners at Balgrist – namely Dr. Walter O Frey – and the University Hospital Zurich – namely Dr. Ruud Knols and Dr. Jaap Swanenburg.”
Hocoma is not a newcomer regarding lower back pain treatment. Their sensor-based therapy solution Valedo that turns back pain therapy into an engaging game challenge won multiple consumer awards in the last two years.