A British Columbia based company is rolling out its wearable health technology to physiotherapy clinics in Ontario.
Tenzr Health, which launched in 2021, uses wearable sensors, gamification, and healthcare expertise to help the rehabilitation process for patients recovering from musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries.
MSK injuries are any injury that affects the bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves or tendons and result in pain. Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are both examples of MSK injuries and can often be difficult to recover from.
“The reason you sustained the injury is because of an incorrect movement pattern. And so in many ways, what rehabilitation entails is to rewire your movement pattern so you’re moving in a way that’s not injurious,” said Gautam Sadarangani, co-founder of Tenzr Health. “It’s difficult to recover from because it often involves doing a large variety of exercises, making sure you do them correctly, and making sure that you do them often enough.”
An engaging experience
To help patients recover from these injuries, Tenzr’s movement-tracking software and wearable wrist and knuckle sensors help professionals accurately assess movement impairments while providing patients with visual feedback on exercises to improve the quality of movement.
The wearables also pair with an app which effectively turns a patient’s hand and wrist into a video game controller, and rehabilitation exercises into games.
“So instead of having to do an exercise, you can fly a plane on the app. The only way to get through the obstacles is to move your limbs in exactly the position that your therapist wants you to go. So we’ve taken something that could be quite opaque and difficult to comply with and made it simple to comply with so patients know whether they’re doing it correctly,” Sadarangani said.
In addition, the app stores data and allows patients and physiotherapists to track progress.
“We’ve also provided assessment features so patients know where they are in their recovery journey. And for therapists, they know exactly what the patient’s done at home and when they need to progress the patient at the next session. We’re essentially giving data and confidence to both the therapist and the patient,” he said.
Maureen Dwight, Clinic Director of the Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic in Toronto, has been using Tenzr’s wearables at the clinic.
Dwight said she liked the product for its accuracy and its ability to measure dexterity and coordination.
“Hands are about strength and flexibility but hands are also about dexterity and coordination. It’s one of the things I like about this [Tenzr wearables]. You can get a little bit more into that dexterity and coordination measure that is harder to quantify through our more traditional means,” she said.
When it comes to motivating patients, Dwight said Tenzr’s products have been extremely helpful. She said some of her clients felt that they hadn’t seen progress with the sensors and games until they looked at the data that the wearables tracked on the app.
“We have one client who was very diligent, she did it twice a day, but only for about 10 minutes. And at the end of the month, she said, ‘I think I should take the [wearable] back. It’s not working for me.’ We looked at the data and the data showed it was [working]. So, she’s taken that now for another couple months because she’s motivated to do it,” Dwight said.
Often patients are unable to truly feel progress, so being able to see the data can be a real benefit.
“Tenzr in the clinic itself is beneficial, because we’re able to assess things that one wouldn’t be able to assess without sensors,” Sadarangani said.
The future of wearable tech in healthcare
When it comes to the expansion of wearable technology in physiotherapy and other healthcare services, Dwight said it would be useful as long as it actually provides accurate data and information.
“As long as wearable technology is relatively accurate, it’s a real boon,” she said.
For example, nowadays walking data is very easy to track through a smartphone or smartwatch. Dwight said her patients often come in with this walking data, and because it is relatively accurate, she is able to check their data and see if their walking or lack of walking could be causing any injuries or pain.
“I had one client increase their walking from 3,000 steps a day to 12,000. And they came in with an acute hip and their trackable data showed me exactly what it was. It just was too big of a change. [The data] gives you another layer of something that you can’t necessarily see,” she said.
Tenzr Health is currently operating in British Columbia and Ontario clinics, with plans to expand to the rest of the country as well as into the United States.