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Tackling Orthopaedic Surgery Support with Mobile Phones: A Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge Submission


Photo via UCD Dublin.

Brian Caulfield, Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at University College Dublin, has advanced to the Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge Final Smackdown with his idea to use the sensors on smartphones to monitor the quality of rehabilitation therapy and patient adherence.

“Our concept is based on leveraging the sensing and computing capability of mobile phones to underpin a comprehensive rehabilitation support platform for patients undergoing elective orthopaedic surgery,” he says. “Our idea addresses the unmet needs that patients and clinicians cite as the major challenges to successful rehabilitation outcome and satisfaction with care. By using a mobile phone as a sensing device, we are removing the need to purchase additional sensing hardware to provide patients with a solution to their problems, with all the associated costs that this involves.”

Caulfield will be traveling to Boston from Dublin this Thursday, hoping to beat out nine other finalists and nab the Grand Prize in this year’s live pitch off. His team includes two physical therapists who are PhD graduates from his program at the University College Dublin (Diarmaid Fitzgerald and Oonagh Giggins), Tahar Kechadi (Professor of Computer Science in UCD), and Patrick Golden.

This idea stems from Caulfield’s research on the validation of wearables for health applications, which has been going on since before many of us knew that trackers would become so trendy and interesting.

“The genesis of this particular idea was an approach from a person who had recently undergone a total hip replacement,” he says. “[The patient] spoke about the fear he experienced on leaving the hospital due to a lack of knowledge about how to go about managing the first few weeks. His final message was something along the lines of ‘Surely you can do something for us with all your technology’. That got me thinking about my time working in orthopaedic rehabilitation and the gaps in care that might be addressed using wearable sensing.”

Caulfield is also thinking big. He sees this as a solution for patients who’ve undergone elective orthopaedic surgery, but also as a solution that can be adapted to address knowledge, exercise management, progress monitoring and communication needs in a wide variety of clinical contexts. He hopes to carry out an evaluation trial in Ireland soon.

“The Medstro Wearables Challenge offers us the opportunity to share and test our concept with a well informed audience,” Caulfield says of Thursday’s events. “It brings us outside our comfort zone and gives the concept a robust sanity check opportunity.”

Tickets for the live event at Google Cambridge headquarters are now sold out, but you can add yourself to the wait list here.

You can also register for our first ever MedTALK Boston Networking Night, on May 13th, for similar conversation and collaboration.

Jenni Whalen

Jenni Whalen

    Jenni Whalen is the Executive Assistant of Editorial at Upworthy. She was previously MedTech Boston's Managing Editor and has an MS in Journalism from Boston University, as well as a BA in Psychology from Bucknell University. Whalen has written for Greatist, Boston magazine, AZ Central Healthy Living and the New England Journal of Medicine, among other places. She has also worked as a conference planner, ghost writer, researcher and content developer.

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