The accelerometer chip inside almost every smartphone, which helps the device know up from down, could help orthopaedic surgeons remotely analyze the gaits of their patients after joint-replacement surgery. So says Canadian orthopaedist Michael Dunbar, MD, an oft-published JBJS author.
Accelerometers can detect motion in three directions. Dr. Dunbar told Orthopedics This Week that he’s working on an app whereby patients, at the time of postsurgical check-ups, would strap the phone onto their back or hip and go for a walk in their own environs. The app would transmit the accelerometer-captured information to the doctor for gait analysis; the physician would then contact the patient by phone for further discussion about postsurgical progress.
Compared to the traditional follow-up X-ray–which, as Dr. Dunbar noted, “is just a [two-dimensional] picture of the patient lying down and has nothing to do with the patients’ walking”–the accelerometer-enabled remote gait analysis should be more accurate and less expensive and time-consuming.