Systematic Review / Meta-Analysis|Articles in Press

Spine patient care with wearable medical technology: state-of-the-art, opportunities, and challenges: a systematic review


      Background Context

      Healthcare reforms that demand quantitative outcomes and technical innovations have emphasized the use of Disability and Functional Outcome Measurements (DFOMs) to spinal conditions and interventions. Virtual healthcare has become increasingly important following the COVID-19 pandemic, and wearable medical devices have proven to be a useful adjunct. Thus, given the advancement of wearable technology, broad adoption of commercial devices (ie, smartwatches, phone applications, and wearable monitors) by the general public, and the growing demand from consumers to take control of their health, the medical industry is now primed to formally incorporate evidence-based wearable device-mediated telehealth into standards of care.


      To (1) identify all wearable devices in the peer-reviewed literature that were used to assess DFOMs in Spine, (2) analyze clinical studies implementing such devices in spine care, and (3) provide clinical commentary on how such devices might be integrated into standards of care.

      Study Design/Setting

      A systematic review.


      A comprehensive systematic review was conducted in adherence to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Guidelines (PRISMA) across the following databases: PubMed; MEDLINE; EMBASE (Elsevier); and Scopus. Articles related to wearables systems in spine healthcare were selected. Extracted data was collected as per a predetermined checklist including wearable device type, study design, and clinical indices studied.


      Of the 2,646 publications that were initially screened, 55 were extensively analyzed and selected for retrieval. Ultimately 39 publications were identified as being suitable for inclusion based on the relevance of their content to the core objectives of this systematic review. The most relevant studies were included, with a focus on wearables technologies that can be used in patients’ home environments.


      Wearable technologies mentioned in this paper have the potential to revolutionize spine healthcare through their ability to collect data continuously and in any environment. In this paper, the vast majority of wearable spine devices rely exclusively on accelerometers. Thus, these metrics provide information about general health rather than specific impairments caused by spinal conditions. As wearable technology becomes more prevalent in orthopedics, healthcare costs may be reduced and patient outcomes will improve. A combination of DFOMs gathered using a wearable device in conjunction with patient-reported outcomes and radiographic measurements will provide a comprehensive evaluation of a spine patient's health and assist the physician with patient-specific treatment decision-making. Establishing these ubiquitous diagnostic capabilities will allow improvement in patient monitoring and help us learn about postoperative recovery and the impact of our interventions.


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