Smartphone rehab system boosts spina bifida treatment, drives patient engagement

Interactive mHealth technology can help spina bifida patients in medical treatment, as well as on a psychosocial level, as it can spur a patient's self-management skills, according to a research article published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

The potential to boost patient self management is greatly appealing, as studies have noted patient engagement in care can speed up healing, rehab and reduce hospital readmissions. The new study notes that more than 166,000 Americans suffer from spina bifida (SB), which is the most common permanently disabling congenitally acquired condition. The illness presents extensive health complications, which means patients are likely to have multiple hospitalizations and more readmissions than the general population.

Researchers studied use of the mHealth rehab system, called iMHere, for a full year among two SB patient groups: one featured 13 participants provided the tool and a second group of 10 were given typical traditional treatment. The system uses a smartphone to remind users of self-care tasks, and allows users to upload and share wound images, manage medications and participate in mood surveys. The researchers state that high usage of the system correlated with positive patient changes.

The study is just the latest findings regarding how mobile device-based rehabilitation programs are enhancing the treatment scenario. As FierceMobileHealthcare recently reported, a smartphone-based technology is helping patients suffering from severe pulmonary disease and reducing hospital readmissions. What's more, a Brigham and Women's Hospital study released this summer revealed that access to online educational content specific to medical issues and Web-based tools can enhance communication between patients and providers and can help users gain a deeper understanding of care and boost patient satisfaction.

The SB research states that the iMHere System is the first mHealth application for the SB population.

"High usage of the system was associated with positive changes in self-management skills," the researchers say. "This system holds promise for use in many diverse chronic care models to develop and maintain increased self-management skills."

For more information:
- read the article in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation