Innovative AI app launches to help combat low back pain issues
Recognised by the World Health Organisation as the global number one reason for disability, low back pain (LBP) is a widespread and expensive condition.
According to the Office for National Statistics, back pain accounted for almost 31 million days of work lost in 2013 and costs the UK economy £14 billion per year.
Furthermore, an estimated one-third of the UK adult population are affected by LBP each year, with professionals thinking that it could be due to factors such as sitting at desks all day, carrying bags, general bad posture as well as by environmental factors like stress.
However, a new artificial intelligence (AI) app called Kaia hopes to combat this problem.
Developed in coordination with physiotherapists, pain management physicians, orthopaedic surgeons and clinical psychologists, the app has been approved as a Class 1 medical product in the EU and allows users to self-manage their non-specific back pain. These are cases of back pain where individuals do not require specific treatment (includes up to 90 percent of all cases of back pain).
The app offers users education, physiotherapy (including exercises for the lower back and lateral muscles) and psychological strategies (including mindfulness and muscle relaxation).
From over 120 exercises, the AI tailors treatment programmes for each user and motion tracking technology ensures that the exercises are performed correctly using a smartphone, without the need for additional hardware.
Each session lasts for 15 minutes and the app also features a chat function which connects users to a physiotherapist or sport scientist for exercise-related questions.
Recent clinical studies on the Kaia app were conducted at the Department of Neurology, Centre for Interdisciplinary Pain Medicine, Technical University of Munich and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the University of Munich in Germany.
Results showed a significant reduction in LBP by 40 percent as well as a 40 percent long-term retention of users for six months, with the mean app usage over this period being 3.2 times a week.
Developed in Germany, Kaia was downloaded over 100,000 times in its first year. Due to reimbursement deals with several big insurances in Germany, the app is now being offered free of charge to over 20 million patients in Germany (over 25 percent of its population).
Kaia Health is hoping to replicate this in the UK.
Konstantin Mehl, Founder & CEO of Kaia Health, said: “A holistic, multidisciplinary treatment of LBP using education and exercise has always been an expensive, resource-intense undertaking which makes it hard to integrate in health systems such as the NHS.
“By digitising therapy we’re democratising access to effective treatment of LBP. This empowers and motivates individuals to take control, and self-manage their condition with evidenced-based, non-pharmacological, cost-effective alternatives that could save the UK economy billions each year.
“The Kaia app, and advances in technology, demonstrates why we need to rethink how we treat diseases, and make digital self-management a more realistic part of treatment.”
The Kaia app is available on iOS and Android and can be downloaded via GooglePlay and AppStore and costs £35 for three months, £55 for six months and £70 for a year.
Founded in 2016, Kaia Health is a digital therapy company that creates evidence-based treatments for a range of disorders including back pain, Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.