Better Rehabilitation, Faster Recovery

Using Data to Improve Physical Therapy

February 10th 2019 in Physical Therapy
data science

As medical professionals, we must treat our patient's health with the utmost care and importance. Unfortunately, this kind of mentality is lost in certain cases when we start falling into a comfortable routine. You can imagine how it goes. We do the same thing day in, day out, week after week; eventually we start doing things on autopilot. Of course, this is beneficial in some cases, but not when treating patients. We've probably all seen it or heard about it at least once: Someone misdiagnosis the situation and does the patient more harm than good. In physical therapy, we typically deal with less extreme situations, but making the right decisions for our patient is still key to better recovery.

The important question we should always be asking is: "Are we using instincts, experience, or objective data to make our decisions?" This applies to physical therapists on a per patient level, it applies to private practices on a small business level, and it applies to hospitals on corporate level. What we would like to achieve is that optimal balance of instincs to experience to data when it comes to dealing with patient health, but it's not easy to always get that balance.

Trusting Instincts and Experience

If you've read any number of self-motivating books, articles, or quotes, you've probably been spoon fed a lot of common wisdom telling you to follow your instincts. Lines like: "No guts, no glory" is often said as a joke, but shows just how engrained this type of thinking is in our current day society, especially in the more developed, first world countries.

It should be noted that using our instincts and experience is great in some situations and should certainly be encouraged. Not everything in life can be treated as a science. We don't have all the resources in the world when treating each and every patient. We can't do every possible test due to contraints in time, money, availability, and etc. As such, it becomes important to make gut decisions appropriately.

Using Data to Support Your Decisions

Data is best used as supporting evidence in our day to day work. This applies to physical therapists and doctors just the same as it does to a wall street trader. It's important to realize that using data science is NOT a replacement for decision making. Data can be seen as 'facts', but they are neither decisions, nor actions. Data is there as factual evidence to help us, but it can never replace good critical thinking when it comes to problem solving.

For example, when tracking a patient's recovery process, data and metrics regarding his/her performance is generally extremely helpful in letting us know how well he/she's progressing. But it doesn't necessarily tell us why something is happening or how it is happening. Hopefully, the data can shed better light and help answer those questions, but it requires the experience of a skillful professional to put together logical cause and effect theories. With those theories, we can then make the best recommendations for our patient.

Why We Made MIO

At MioTherapy, we've made it our mission to help doctors and physical therapists make the best decisions possible by using objective, scientific data. Let's be honest, most of physical therapy is still stuck in the hold habits of the 20th century. We're not even close to leveraging all of our technologial and informational advancements in the last decade in this field yet.

We created the MIO platform because there were no other tools out there that could provide a comprehensive, real-time monitoring and recording of every major body parts + joint. Using advanced 9-axis wearable sensors, we can get measurement accuracy that is much better than a typical goniometer during a patient's ENTIRE session! This not only improves data collection, but it gives us access to a ton of relevant data that were simply not available before. With metrics like these, we can see when a patient only reaches their exercises ROM targets 1 out of 5 times, or that they are not performing the prescribed movements correct in certain parts of the plan. Even more importantly, the data feedback in real-time creates an instant, interactive, and visual experience for patient's during the PT sessions, which has shown to significantly improve compliance. Try it for yourself and see what a difference it can make today!

Learn more about our MIO can help you gather better data and use it more effectively here!.