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Changing Digital.

The Quantified Self and the implications for physical therapy

Currently there is an explosion of interest in personal digital devices and apps that track an individual’s health data primarily for their own consumption and interpretation.

Every week new products are launched that aim to measure something new or bring together a set of measures into a more useful package (e.g. Athos digital clothing that tracks muscle recruitment, heart rate etc). Around these devices is a growing community of early adopters who are testing, experimenting and sharing their experiences.

These self-confessed self-tracking geeks refer to this new domain as the Quantified Self

Some examples of the types of data being tracked by these Quantified Selfers that are of particular interest to PT include:

  1. Activity levels (exercise) – devices generally the record number of steps taken but also can record elevation gained (number of stairs and floors) and even estimate a measure of calories burned. Example devices include the Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Up,Striiv and Withings Pulse.
  2. Body health measures – devices that track a wide variety of health measures such as heart rate, skin temperature, perspiration (e.g. the Basis watch), blood pressure (e.g. the iHealth blood pressure monitor), blood oxygen saturation (e.g. the iHealth Pulse Oximeter), heart ECG trace (e.g. Alivecor), blood sugar (e.g. iBGStar) etc.

So why should physical therapists and physiotherapists be paying attention to this trend?

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