Digital physical therapy tool improved knee patients' recovery

Two papers from Sword Health's researchers suggest the company's Digital Therapist platform is well received and more effective than standard rehabilitation.
By Dave Muoio
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Sword Health has highlighted data from two recently published studies indicating that its artificial intelligence-powered digital physical therapy tool more effectively improved recovery among patients recuperating from total knee arthroplasty.

Both investigations were conducted by researchers with affiliations with the Portuguese company, and suggest that the intervention could improve patient recovery time, engagement and quality of life.

“These findings prove Sword Health’s innovative approach is the future of physical therapy,” Sword Health CEO Virgílio Bento said in a statement. “We are not just dramatically reducing costs for physical therapy. We are actually proving to be a better, faster, and tremendously more convenient approach to physical therapy that enables patients to recover at home.”

The Sword Digital Therapist is a digital rehabilitation tool that consists of a motion tracker to measure movement, a mobile app and a web portal. Users complete guided physical therapy sessions, while their progress is supervised by a remote clinician.

In the first paper, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), researchers observed clinically relevant improvements over six months among the 29 patients receiving conventional rehabilitation and the 30 who used the digital tool. However, the intervention group recorded significantly improved recovery scores at various points in time, and across test types. Those using the digital tool also reported high levels of satisfaction and engagement, with an 82 percent rate of user retention.

The second, published in Nature Scientific Reports, also examined 29 control patients and 30 intervention patients over an eight-week study period. In this time, the change from baseline in the experimental group was superior among all primary outcome measures, with these patients also reporting a positively to assessments concerning their quality of life and ability to perform daily activities.

What’s the impact

Digital rehabilitation platforms like Sword’s generally look to reduce clinician involvement through a convenient, consumer-friendly package. These data suggest that those advantages could also be accompanied by favorable patient outcomes.

“These findings prove Sword Health’s innovative approach is the future of physical therapy,” Bento said in a statement. “We are not just dramatically reducing costs for physical therapy. We are actually proving to be a better, faster, and tremendously more convenient approach to physical therapy that enables patients to recover at home.”

What’s the trend

It was just under a year ago that Sword Health landed $4.6 million from backers to continue developing its AI platform. Other key players in the field include Physitrack and Reflexion Health