Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Brijraj Bhuptani, Co-Founder and CEO at Spry Movement App, to know more about digital intervention in pain management.
- How has pandemic impacted the issue of MSK (Musculoskeletal) Pain?
- Similar to many other industries, the onset of pandemic had some adversarial impact on MSK pain. The need for rehabilitation is largely unmet. In some low- and middle-income countries, more than 50% of people do not receive the rehabilitation services they require. Rehabilitation services are also amongst the health services most severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic
The pandemic also restricted regular mobility which resulted in a higher number of people reporting back and neck pain. In the US 1 in every 3 adults suffers from back pain.
On the flip side extended lockdown means patients with MSK condition did not have access to care and surgical interventions they usually had. This resulted in suffering patients opting for digital MSK solutions. Studies showed that digital MSK was not only cheaper, more convenient but it helped avoid surgeries in 2 out of 3 cases. This has resulted in proliferation of digital MSK solutions which have the potential to make MSK care far more accessible and affordable.
What are the trends in movement health and its impact on the industry?
There are 3 major trends in the Movement Health space. Digital Therapeutics: Digital health interventions have the potential to improve conservative care outcomes for chronic musculoskeletal pain by increasing patient engagement through electronic delivery of interventions. This approach can better enable patients to take a proactive role in their treatment and learn to self-manage their chronic pain symptoms.
Advancements in Physical Therapy Treatments: Physical therapy has evolved way past just pain management. In many cases it’s a better alternative to surgeries. Some examples include physical therapy may be considered an alternative to surgery for patients with nonobstructive meniscal tears. For lumbar spinal stenosis results shows Physiotherapy and Surgical treatment shows equal results for long term.
A prolonged physiotherapy and rehabilitation program is a beneficial modality in patients with recently diagnosed lumbar disk herniation. Such a program may improve the functional capacity and facilitate return to work more than early surgical intervention.
Increasing importance of strength and conditioning: Its not just about being pain free anymore. More and more people are taking to Strength and Conditioning to reduce chances of injury and also improve performance. The employment of Strength and Conditioning coaches is projected to grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, USA. This is a much faster rate than the average for all occupations. Increased participation in high school and collegiate sports is expected to drive demand for qualified professionals in this field.
Since Spry is headquartered in the US, how do evaluate the movement health in India?
The US is a far more mature market for MSK health than India due to the following reasons. Firstly, culturally in the US people don’t like to rely on other people due to physical ailments. This results in seeking care at the onset of the problem rather than shrugging it or procrastinating it. Secondly, physical therapy in an outpatient setting is reimbursed by insurance in the US. However in India it’s only reimbursed after a major surgery and that too around the time of the surgery. This results in a lower barrier to avail care. Finally, the number of older population and people participating in sporting activities is much higher in the US than in India.
The India market, while relatively small today, is growing at a fast pace of 20% year on year. Awareness amongst the younger population on the importance of Physical Wellness, rise in the new generation of physically fit sportsmen and Olympic athletes and provision of budgets by employers for physical wellness are some of the reasons for the high rate of growth and promise of the future.
Tell us more about Spry’s self assessment webapp?
For most diseases such as Cardiac issues, Diabetes there is enough awareness on the parameters which need to be assessed and hence there is a proactive approach in treatment or even prevention of the same.
However, in the case of Movement health, it is not monitored regularly. This is mainly because unlike diabetes and cardiac health there are no quantifiable indicators checked for overall mobility and conditioning to raise a red flag or nudge a person towards making lifestyle changes. Our approach to it is reactive, and we only begin taking steps towards treating it when the pain grows too severe to manage. Through Spry, we aim to democratise access to movement health, and help people incorporate it into their daily routines rather than opting for it as a quick fix solution
Through the use of AI-based technologies this digital tool will provide users with a comprehensive assessment of their mobility and flexibility, along with an indicative set of strength and endurance levels, by means of a scorecard. Users will also receive an interpretation of their results via a comparison with broader population health data.
Users who are experiencing musculoskeletal-related (MSK) pain or discomfort, or even those seeking to better understand their body’s readiness to engage in physical activity, can use the portal to derive a clear understanding of the issues they face. The user just needs to fill out some basic information about their MH and then stand in front of the laptop’s camera and follow the instructions on the screen. Based on these details, the platform generates a scorecard and suggests follow-up action. The information derived is also customised based on the user’s planned activity. For example, the result matrices for an ardent golfer or tennis player would be different from that of a desk worker. This portal is an individual’s first step towards better movement health.
Your partnership with with Manipal University?
Spry’s digital assessments on mobility, strength, and endurance are developed by Spry’s internal medical team using earlier studies on the subject. The results are being externally validated by healthcare professionals at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), which houses the top-rated allied health programme in India. Through this multidimensional partnership, Spry and MAHE work together to research the impact of digital health on patient outcomes and develop revolutionary digital-first therapeutics.
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