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An mHealth App for Self-Management of Chronic Lower Back Pain (Limbr): Pilot Study.

An mHealth App for Self-Management of Chronic Lower Back Pain (Limbr): Pilot Study.

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An mHealth App for Self-Management of Chronic Lower Back Pain (Limbr): Pilot Study.

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2018 Sep 17;6(9):e179

Authors: Selter A, Tsangouri C, Ali SB, Freed D, Vatchinsky A, Kizer J, Sahuguet A, Vojta D, Vad V, Pollak JP, Estrin D

BACKGROUND: Although mobile health (mHealth) interventions can help improve outcomes among patients with chronic lower back pain (CLBP), many available mHealth apps offer content that is not evidence based. Limbr was designed to enhance self-management of CLBP by packaging self-directed rehabilitation tutorial videos, visual self-report tools, remote health coach support, and activity tracking into a suite of mobile phone apps, including Your Activities of Daily Living, an image-based tool for quantifying pain-related disability.
OBJECTIVE: The aim is to (1) describe patient engagement with the Limbr program, (2) describe patient-perceived utility of the Limbr program, and (3) assess the validity of the Your Activities of Daily Living module for quantifying functional status among patients with CLBP.
METHODS: This was a single-arm trial utilizing a convenience sample of 93 adult patients with discogenic back pain who visited a single physiatrist from January 2016 to February 2017. Eligible patients were enrolled in 3-month physical therapy program and received the Limbr mobile phone app suite for iOS or Android. The program included three daily visual self-reports to assess pain, activity level, and medication/coping mechanisms; rehabilitation video tutorials; passive activity-level measurement; and chat-based health coaching. Patient characteristics, patient engagement, and perceived utility were analyzed descriptively. Associations between participant characteristics and program interaction were analyzed using multiple linear regression. Associations between Your Activities of Daily Living and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) assessments were examined using Pearson correlation and hierarchical linear modeling.
RESULTS: A total of 93 participants were enrolled; of these, 35 (38%) completed the program (age: mean 46, SD 16 years; female: 22/35, 63%). More than half of completers finished assessments at least every 3 days and 70% (19/27) used the rehabilitation component at least once a week. Among respondents to a Web-based feedback survey, 76% (16/21) found the daily notifications helped them remember to complete their exercises, 81% (17/21) found the system easy to use, and 62% (13/21) rated their overall experience good or excellent. Baseline Your Activities of Daily Living score was a significant predictor of baseline ODI score, with ODI increasing by 0.30 units for every 1-unit increase in Your Activities of Daily Living (P<.001). Similarly, hierarchical linear modeling analysis indicated that Your Activities of Daily Living daily assessment scores were significant predictors of ODI scores over the course of the study (P=.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Engagement among participants who completed the Limbr program was high, and program utility was rated positively by most respondents. Your Activities of Daily Living was significantly associated with ODI scores, supporting the validity of this novel tool. Future studies should assess the effect of Limbr on clinical outcomes, evaluate its use among a wider patient sample, and explore strategies for reducing attrition.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT03040310; (Archived by WebCite at

PMID: 30224333 [PubMed]

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