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Why Apps Can Help Manage Chronic Health Conditions

| September 24, 2021, 06:00 PM

Health AppThe pandemic has totally altered our view on what technology can do for our health. Read on for an overview of apps we can use to manage chronic health conditions.

What Apps are People Using?

People from all over the world have taken to a variety of different apps as a means to stay active. Take the Swedish engineered Joint Academy as an example. This has been used by many people, as every day it will send its users a “nudge”, which is simply a friendly reminder to do a series of repetitions for five minutes (which are usually squats or leg lifts). These suggestions also come with videos that ensure people doing the exercises have the correct form, and there is even a video call feature, where users of the app can schedule a call with an actual physiotherapist to discuss a plan moving forward.

The Arc of Central Maryland

Similar to a lot of other fitness apps, Joint Academy saw its popularity leapfrog overnight as previous predictions were smashed to make way for the new numbers influenced by the pandemic. Around 50,000 people have downloaded the app since April 2020, which is a massive increase compared to the 15,000 in their first sixth months post-launch.

Not only were people turning to apps for assistance with exercise plans and physiotherapy but people were also using technology as a means to book regular check-ups, such as the Annual Wellness Visits, a solution from ChartSpan. These did not have to be carried out in-person, as patients could fill out questionnaires that pertained to their health, which would then be considered, and treatment plans made as a result.

The questions that people were asked pertained to fall prevention, cognitive impairment, and advanced care planning. Reports would then be prepared for both the patient and the provider of care for them both to evaluate. Other vitals would also be added for these check-ups such as blood pressure, weight, and height.

Who Was Using These Apps?

Due to the worldwide impact that the pandemic has had, people from all over the world found themselves using these kinds of apps. That being said, those who suffered from chronic ailments especially made good use of them, due to the fact they were usually placed in the high-risk category for covid. This meant they were urged not to leave the house at all for elongated periods of time, meaning it was hardly ever possible for them to just head down to their local GP for more advice on exercises they could potentially do.

Is Everything About the Development of These Apps Positive?

Whilst the idea of having apps that can benefit people with chronic pain in times where they cannot leave the house may sound primarily like a good thing, there is no getting away from the fact that apps such as Joint Academy have their downsides as well. These were discussed recently by Sofia Rydgren Stale (one of the chairs of the Swedish Medical Association), whose comments resonated in countries across the world.

She said that though these apps are of great importance, she could not help but become worried at a lack of regulation in the industry. She highlighted her concerns with worries about “very aggressive marketing” from some private companies who used this kind of tech. “We need to do more research,” she said, “it is important to define what kind of care and which types of treatments can be handled by digital apps, and what care and which treatments need to be handled by seeing a doctor at a health center or hospital.”

There is also the risk that some of the older generations may struggle with using these apps and, therefore, would not be able to reap the benefits of their existence. This would be a real shame as chronic pain is something that is often seen more so in the older generation (although this can vary).

What Does the Science Say?

The science seems to meet these criticisms head-on and dismiss them as recent research that was carried out by students at the University of Nottingham found that patients who engaged with apps that were designed to reduce pain levels saw a 41% reduction in just six weeks. This is a massive improvement when held up against the figures for traditional care, which was merely 6%.

Other Apps That Can Help with Chronic Pain

Of course, there are plenty of apps out there that can be used to help people with chronic pain, and the choices facing consumers do not start and stop with the two mentioned above. Some of the other useful apps include:

  • Pathways Pain Relief

This is a mind-body therapy program that focuses a great deal on meditation and mindfulness. These are both common factors that are incorporated into chronic pain treatment plans due to the fact a lot of the time, people’s chronic pain is the result of them suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression, and meditation and mindfulness can be effective means to overcome this.

  • Curable

This is also an app that focuses on meditation and mindfulness, to make pain therapy as accessible as possible. They state that their mission is to “provide widespread access to evidence-based, safe, and effective chronic pain solutions for all those in need. We take the latest research in pain science and make it easy to understand, convenient to use, and affordable to access with or without insurance.” The app was actually founded by people who had chronic pain and recovered, so they want to help others do the same thing.

  • Manage My Pain

Finally, there is the Manage My Pain app that allows patients to keep an accurate record of their chronic pain, which includes their symptoms and how severe they might be. Chronic pain and the remedy for it are both incredibly subjective, so what works for you may not work for others. One thing that is for sure though is that you won’t know what works for you if you don’t have an accurate log of your pain.

Category: Local News, NEWS

About the Author - Stephanie Maris

Stefanie is a local blogger and social media content marketer from Maryland and most recently a wife and a mother. She has an unhealthy obsession with puns, sarcasm and caffeinated beverages.

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