Telerehabilitation allows accurate assessment of patients with low back pain

May 20, 2013, Wolters Kluwer Health

A new "telerehabilitation" approach lets physical therapists assess patients with low back pain (LBP) over the Internet, with good accuracy compared with face-to-face examinations, reports a study in the May 15 issue of Spine.

Taking advantage of Skype and other widely-used services may make telerehabilitation a more feasible alternative to in-person clinic visits, according to the new research by Prof. Manuel Arroyo-Morales and colleagues of University of Granada, Spain. They believe their results "give preliminary support to the implementation of web-based LBP assessment systems using video recordings that can be evaluated by different therapists."

Can Back Pain Assessments Be Performed Over the Internet?

The researchers designed and evaluated a web-based telerehabilitation system for performing routine clinical assessments of with LBP. The telerehabilitation setup operated across a low-bandwidth Internet connection between two personal computers equipped with webcams.

The system included the popular Skype videoconferencing service, allowing the patient and physical therapist could see and talk to each other in real time. The therapist guided the patient in performing specific movements, and captured video clips for analysis using video motion analysis software (Kinovea). The therapist and patient were also able to complete standard back pain using the web-based system.

Fifteen patients with chronic LBP underwent two assessments in random order: once face-to-face and once using the telerehabilitation setup. Accuracy was assessed by comparing the results of telerehabilitation assessment with those of in-person assessment.

The results showed good agreement between the two evaluations, supporting the use of telerehabilitation for of LBP. There was good correlation for measures made on video motion analysis, such as spine mobility and back ; as well as questionnaire-based assessments such as disability, pain, and health-related quality of life.

Skype and Other Tools Make Telerehabilitation More Feasible

The telerehabilitation setup showed consistent results for the same therapist at different times (intra-rater reliability) as well as for assessment by independent therapists (inter-rater reliability).

There is growing interest in Internet-based systems for assessment of patients with musculoskeletal disorders. Telerehabilitation approaches could be especially valuable for patient in rural or remote areas, who don't have easy access to healthcare providers.

In the past, the use of telerehabilitation was limited by high equipment costs. The new study shows the successful use of telerehabilitation using widely available and familiar technology, including the use of free software such as .

The telerehabilitation system evaluated in the new study may be useful in assessing patients with the very common problem of LBP, showing good agreement with the results of face-to-face assessment. However, there are still some factors limiting more widespread use—including the need for "potentially unwieldy" security software to protect patient privacy.

Prof. Arroyo-Morales and coauthors also note that many patients who would otherwise have been eligible for the study weren't included because of a lack of familiarity and experience with computers. The researchers call for further studies in larger groups of patients—focusing on those who don't have easy access to in-person evaluations.

Explore further: Catastrophizing doesn't predict low back pain evolution

Related Stories

Catastrophizing doesn't predict low back pain evolution

August 16, 2012
(HealthDay) -- For adult patients with acute or chronic low back pain (LBP), assessing the baseline score for catastrophizing does not help clinicians in routine clinical practice predict the evolution of LBP or the patient's ...

Tests don't predict outcome after spine fusion for back pain

November 15, 2012
(HealthDay)—Currently, there is no test available to reliably predict which patients with chronic low back pain (LBP) will achieve a good clinical outcome after spinal fusion surgery, according to the results of a literature ...

Spanish registry IDs predictors of low back pain improvement

December 20, 2012
(HealthDay)—For patients with acute or chronic low back pain (LBP), predictors have been identified for clinically relevant improvements in LBP, pain down the leg (LP), and disability at three months, according to research ...

Recommended for you

Flu infection study increases understanding of natural immunity

January 23, 2018
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according ...

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.