Published by cahoadmin at September 6, 2016


New rehab study at Providence Care gets Fitbit treatment

New Rehab Study at Providence Care gets “Fitbit” Treatment

Feature Photo: Dr. Trier and Dr. DePaul demonstrate some of the technology associated with their study. Photo by Matthew Manor at Kingston General Hospital.

Dr. Jessica Trier of St. Mary’s of the Lake’s Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Program and Dr. Vincent DePaul, Queen’s University’ Assistant Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy have developed a new research study to benefit patients with Acquired Brain Injury with their rehabilitative care.

Dr. DePaul says the introduction of wearables like the Fitbit have opened doors in terms of measurement of physical behaviour. That is what the study focuses on. Patients will wear an ActiviPal – a small accelerometer (like a Fitbit) – during rehab, for the first seven days post-discharge and three months after discharge. Afterwards, the data is downloaded and analyzed.

Dr. DePaul explains, “This device detects and records the body’s motions in 3 different planes of movement. It’s able to tell us if the person was lying, sitting, standing or walking, and how much time they spent in each activity, and what time of day they performed these activities. We will be looking at how that activity data is associated with their physical status and some of those other factors, their cognitive – ability to think – and do sort of higher level activities and some of their personal, social situations and see if that affects their activity patterns at different points in time.”

Dr. Trier goes into more detail on the purpose of monitoring the patient’s activity, “We have a general idea of what people’s activity patterns are like while they are in the hospital but that’s never been formally studied. We also don’t really know what those people do when they leave rehabilitation and carry on with their exercise programs in the community, particularly in this population with cognitive impairment.”

There are two groups the doctors would like to focus on: those who received funding through motor vehicle insurance and therefore may have a lot of support from a community rehab team, and those who may have had a different cause of brain injury, such as falling down the stairs. The latter group may not have insurance funding and therefore have limited access to community rehabilitation resources.

“We want to know if there is a difference in activity patterns between those two populations that may have more or less funding in terms of their activity patterns,” Dr. Trier confirms.

Dr. DePaul adds, “This is a pilot study, meaning that we hope to be able to collect some initial information and data about the activity patterns of these patients, and try out the research methods with the idea that we’ll be able to do the larger study and ask bigger questions.”

This project is still in the very early days, HSREB approval has been received and Dr. Trier and Dr. DePaul expect to recruit their first participant in early in the fall. Stay tuned!


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Providence Care is one of Ontario’s 24 research hospitals that contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province. Read more Research Spotlight posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter blog or join the conversation about why health research matters for Ontario on Twitter, using the hashtag #onHWS.