In the past few months I have been at the mercy of shin splints, and as my neighbouring colleagues, friends and family would tell you, I have definitely made a fuss about it! But at the risk of spreading the word of my plight further, the experience did help me witness the major benefits, and inevitable flaws, of electronically logging pain and daily activity.
Like many, I was and still am wary of uploading my personal data to ‘the cloud’ via my iPhone, particularly with recent blunders surrounding leaks of personal information online. So when the pain in my legs reached new heights, I decided it was time to start logging my daily activity, in my obligatory designer’s Moleskine notepad. But after a couple of weeks I still wasn’t seeing any links between my pain and daily activity. The act of comparing pages of scribbles wasn’t giving me or my physiotherapist enough comprehensive information to accurately target the source of the problem.
So I finally plucked up the courage to start my own pain diary on my phone, still somewhat dubious as to whether I would be able see any benefit. However, after only a few days of entering my activity, I was starting to build a more comprehensive bank of data (see colourful ‘Pain Summary‘ below). Which, if nothing else, at least made me feel as though I had some of control over the war raging in my lower limbs!
And even with the inevitable issues surrounding manual data logging, indicated by the sparseness of blue dots as time progresses, I could still email these stats to my physio between appointments, thus enabling him to provide real-time updates to my prescribed regime. In no time at all, to my colleagues’ further dismay, I was skipping around in glee empowered by my new-found ability to directly influence my body’s knack of scuppering my dreams of sporting prowess.
But on a more serious note, my experiences nicely illustrate what the inevitable challenges we at Team face when designing self-administered treatments and regimes. A treatment’s effectiveness ultimately hinges on the ability of the end user to accurately communicate their symptoms and adhere to their treatment. Only now, with the growth of wearable technology, can automatic wearable sensing and data analysis enable medical device developers to gain a fuller picture of a patient’s lifestyle, therefore allowing us to design the future of ‘smarter’ devices that will ultimately enhance the effectiveness of different treatments.
Image source: ‘Catch My Pain’ iPhone App and Summary Website></small>