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Optimizing care outcomes through AI-enabled functional motion assessment.

HealthCare Business News (HCB News)
April 29, 2022

By Dr. Frank Fornari

Functional motion is a powerful indicator of health, and its restoration is the primary desired outcome across many medical disciplines. The ability to assess any sudden or gradual change in motion can be an important part of early diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of health issues.

That is why demand is growing for clinically actionable and objective functional motion data that can guide, demonstrate, and evaluate the efficacy of diagnosis and treatment. Utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), mobile technologies, and real-time interactive biofeedback makes it possible to capture motion data in clinical or real-world settings and deliver precise, accurate and reproducible therapeutic assessments and treatments that stratify risk, improve outcomes, and increase the efficiency of the healthcare delivery system.

A functional biomarker

Advancements in AI, ML and sensor technology enable functional motion to be used as an essential biomarker to quantify relevant aspects of physical, surgical, pharmaco, and cognitive therapies. Strategically placed sensors allow for the noninvasive capture of normal and pathological motion data to identify, assess, and properly transform patient motion patterns including:

  • Ambulation: Early identification of any chronic or acute neuromusculoskeletal gait pathology facilitates timely intervention for optimal restoration of proper health throughout the entire treatment process, from diagnosis to discharge, while ongoing routine monitoring can help detect, treat, and correct pathological changes in their early stages.
  • Balance: Static and dynamic balance are essential to activities of daily life. When they are compromised, identifying the underlying pathology and the appropriate therapeutic approach is essential to maximize treatment outcomes. Incorporating balance as a fundamental diagnostic tool is clinically beneficial across the entire healthcare spectrum. For patients, knowing how to maintain or improve their balance can be lifesaving.
  • Symmetry: Many pathologies manifest as asymmetrical movement, making the degree of symmetry an important measure of health. Comparing any two points across the midline determines the degree of symmetry, which can identify acute or chronic pathology and injury and be used during physical therapy and corrective exercise to optimize treatment.
  • Angles: The ability to maintain joint integrity following injury or chronic illness, or throughout normal aging, is vital. Comprehensive and ongoing range of motion assessments – in all three planes (sagittal, coronal and transverse) – are clinically meaningful as movement is dependent upon neuromusculoskeletal biomechanics and joint health.
  • Cognition: The ability to react to the environment – the voluntary motor response to visual stimuli – is a fundamental measure of health, as reaction to any stimulus involves sensory perception, cognition, and motor response. Evaluating these components demonstrates how well a patient can perceive and process stimuli.

In addition to diagnoses, functional motion can also be used for immediate biofeedback to promote treatment adherence and longitudinally determine progress. Regular assessments over the patient’s lifetime help identify issues in their earliest, most treatable stages.

Treating the traumatically injured

One of the best illustrations of the impact AI-enabled, clinically actionable real-time motion analytics can have on patient outcomes can be found with treatment of traumatically injured patients, such as those under the care of L.D. Empting, MD, director of Atlanta-based Independent Neurodiagnostic Clinic (INC). Having suffered severe spinal and central nervous system injuries, INC patients are seeking restoration of functional motion – often years after the initial injury – and relief from debilitating pain.

INC clinicians leverage an AI-driven clinical device and sensor technology to assess and design treatments to restore functional motion. It works through a series of lightweight, wireless and self-calibrating sensors that instantly capture high resolution motion and streams that data to mobile or cloud-based analytics software, then immediately delivers actionable analysis and biofeedback to the clinician and patient.

In addition to assessing and monitoring function, the same body of real-time data is leveraged for the objective assessment and mitigation of fall risk and to quantitatively monitor for medication effects and side effects.

The results have been transformative, according to Dr. Empting. He notes that patients typically experience benefits after a single session – further demonstrating the important role functional motion data plays in achieving and maintaining optimal outcomes.

Making the business case

Real-time, AI-driven functional motion data is a powerful tool for healthcare organizations that have adopted a value-based care model to demonstrate the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare. These data drive diagnostics and therapeutics and monitor rates of improvement and functionality, and also provide payors with the long-term efficacy outcomes required for appropriate reimbursement.

Accessible, clinically relevant, and actionable functional motion data ultimately enables virtually any clinical specialty to perform medically necessary tests at the appropriate frequency as part of a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan and achieve the quality outcomes necessary in a true value-based model of care.

About the author: Frank Fornari, Ph.D., is chairman and co-founder of BioMech, which develops and distributes state-of-the-art, real-time motion analytics technologies such as BioMech Lab that quantify and improve patient and user outcomes in healthcare, sports/wellness, and industrial sectors.