Medicine is among the greatest beneficiaries of technological progress. Widespread Internet use and the rapid adoption of mobile devices have made it easy for people to monitor their health and improve their lifestyle. Many governments are introducing electronic patient records and developing initiatives to make technology more pervasive in healthcare environments. Now a group of Spanish researchers from the University of Granada has demonstrated that web-based tools can be used to assess patients suffering from lower back pain (LBP).
The aim of the study was to determine whether telerehabilitation was as accurate as a face-to-face check-up and to assess the merits of implementing such web-based evaluation systems in primary care. Prof. Manuel Arroyo-Morales and his colleagues, who published their findings in the Spine journal, concluded that the results of their pilot study showed telerehabilitation to be a reliable assessment method for people suffering from chronic LBP. The findings also suggest that there is a case for implementing the system in primary care.
The study involved 15 patients with a mean age of 37. The online session with a therapist was conducted over a low-bandwidth connection between two PCs. The patient and the therapist established a video link via PC webcam. The study subjects were assessed twice: once through the web-based system and once through a face-to-face examination. The comparison revealed good agreement between the two sets of results. The research team is now calling for additional studies with larger patient groups, urging a special focus on people who cannot easily avail themselves of face-to-face evaluations.