More mobile apps for prosthetic care will emerge in near future

LAS VEGAS — New mobile apps that could aid clinicians and patients in the O&P industry are being developed and will be available in the near future, according to a speaker at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly, here.

John Ferguson

John Ferguson, PhD, research health scientist at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, and a team of developers are creating a patient-facing mobile app that can control and sense a two-mode prosthetic ankle-foot system. They are also developing a clinician and patient-facing app, which would use different prosthesis modes to guide patients through physical therapy.

“A smart device can be a great platform for providing information [and] care and promoting good health,” Ferguson said. “The VA [Department of Veteran Affairs] is starting to get very interested and is starting to develop a whole range of veteran focused mobile apps.”

These apps could enhance therapy motivation in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, serve as medical learning tools for veterans with traumatic brain injury and provide sock management education for patients with lower limb amputations, Ferguson said.

He added that many of the tools needed to perform prosthetic assessment and rehabilitation are already incorporated into smart devices, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, barometers and GPS systems. Smart devices can be synced with external sources such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and increasing processing power, memory and portability serve as further benefits, he said.

Ferguson added that mobile apps are being used more frequently in O&P to measure outcomes, manage records, monitor gait and control prostheses. He said he and his team hope to create more well-designed apps that involve both patients and clinicians.

“More mobile apps will be integrated with prosthetic devices and a range of other medical devices. … It is the new reality. These apps can reduce costs and improve quality [of health care]. This constantly changing technology environment is exciting to work in,” he said. — by Shawn M. Carter

For more information:

Ferguson J. Symposium: Modern technologies. Presented at: American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly; Sep. 4-7, 2014; Las Vegas.

Disclosure: The work presented here was supported by the Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Rehabilitation and Development Service and the Minnesota Research and Education Foundation. The ideas expressed are those of the presenter and not necessarily of the funding agencies.

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