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Digital health technologies in musculoskeletal care

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Enhanced accessibility to technological innovations offers real opportunity to improve musculoskeletal care, including research, patient adherence and outcomes. Barriers like the coronavirus pandemic are even acting as catalysts in the migration to a virtual medical setting. This article collection will highlight articles investigating how these digital tools are entering clinical practice to provide solutions for patients and healthcare providers. 

We welcomed Research Articles, Case Reports, and Study Protocols on all investigations into this field, such as artificial intelligence, virtual consulting, telecare, remote assessment using digital tools, Social media, data science and mining, eHealth, mobile apps, and wearables.

Meet the Collection Editors

Aurélie Najm
Aurelie Najm, MD, PhDAurélie Najm is a Rheumatologist, MD, PhD, currently working in the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom. Her main interests are digital health in Rheumatology and translational immunology with a focus on synovial tissue and epigenetics. She is the co-chair of the EULAR Synovitis Study Group.

Diederik De Cock
Diederik De Cock, PhDDr Diederik De Cock, KU Leuven, Belgium, is an epidemiologist working in the field of rheumatology with a keen interest in patient reported outcomes, mobile health and optimal therapy for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Latika Gupta
Latika Gupta, MD, PhDDr Gupta is a clinician scientist working as Assistant Professor at SGPGI, a tertiary care teaching hospital in Lucknow, India. She is a dedicated myositis researcher (>100 publications) and recently founded Myositis India, a patient support group for patients with this disease. She currently serves as the scientific committee member for the IMACS (International Myositis Assessment and Clinical Studies Group) and Social Media Editor at a number of Rheumatology journals. Dr Gupta is a member of the APLAR Young Rheumatologist social media core committee, and was bestowed a Publons top peer reviewer award in 2020.

Koroush Kabir

Dr. Kabir is lead consultant surgeon and Associate Professor in Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery in University Hospital Bonn, Germany. He has a wide scope of surgical education with a clinical focus in spine and pelvic surgery, geriatric traumatology with special interest in periprosthetic fractures and polytrauma. His main clinical research interest is minimal invasive and computer navigated surgery of spine and pelvis. In his opinion, the new technology with different digital tools can help physician to achieve patient specific outcome-improvement in the field of orthopaedics and trauma surgery.

  1. Patient and public involvement is an idea whose time has firmly come. It is the views of these Guest Editors that it is the right thing to do morally and improves research quality and applicability.

    Authors: Angie Botto-van Bemden, Adewale O. Adebajo and Ciarán Martin Fitzpatrick
    Citation: BMC Rheumatology 2023 7:12
  2. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders launched a Collection on digital health to get a sense of where the wind is blowing, and what impact these technologies are and will have on musculoskeletal medicine. This editorial ...

    Authors: Latika Gupta, Aurélie Najm, Koroush Kabir and Diederik De Cock
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2023 24:192
  3. Musculoskeletal disorders are one of the most common causes of physical disability. The rehabilitation process after musculoskeletal disorders is long and tedious, and patients are not motivated to follow reha...

    Authors: Shamim Kiani, Iman Rezaei, Sanaz Abasi, Somayyeh Zakerabasali and Azita Yazdani
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2023 24:4
  4. Video consultations have proven to be a powerful support tool for patient–doctor interactions in general, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study analyzed the feasibility and usefulness of orthopedic...

    Authors: Estel K, Richter L, Weber G, Fellmer F, Märdian S, Willy C and Back DA
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:968
  5. Intervertebral disc pathology is the most common identifiable cause of chronic lower back pain (CLBP). There are limited conservative alternatives to treat discogenic axial CLBP. Back Rx is a mobile applicatio...

    Authors: Vijay B. Vad, Antonio Madrazo-Ibarra, Deborah Estrin, John P. Pollak, Kaitlin M. Carroll, Deneen Vojta, Amoli Vad and Camilla Trapness
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:923
  6. Range of motion (ROM) measurements are essential for diagnosing and evaluating upper extremity conditions. Clinical goniometry is the most commonly used methods but it is time-consuming and skill-demanding. Re...

    Authors: Jingyuan Fan, Fanbin Gu, Lulu Lv, Zhejin Zhang, Changbing Zhu, Jian Qi, Honggang Wang, Xiaolin Liu, Jiantao Yang and Qingtang Zhu
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:877
  7. Applications of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) for individual patient management are expanding with the support of digital tools. Providing PROM-based information to patients can potentially improve...

    Authors: Brocha Z. Stern, Sarah Pila, Layla I. Joseph, Nan E. Rothrock and Patricia D. Franklin
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:806
  8. People with rheumatic diseases experience troublesome fluctuations in fatigue. Debated causes include pain, mood and inflammation. To determine the relationships between these potential causes, serial assessme...

    Authors: Katie L. Druce, David S. Gibson, Kevin McEleney, Belay B. Yimer, Stephanie Meleck, Ben James, Bruce Hellman, William G. Dixon and John McBeth
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:770
  9. An inclinometer smartphone application has been developed to enable the measurement of the angle of trunk inclination (ATI) to detect trunk surface asymmetry. The objective was to determine the reliability and...

    Authors: Marie Beauséjour, Delphine Aubin, Carole Fortin, Mohamed N’dongo Sangaré, Mathilde Carignan, Marjolaine Roy-Beaudry, Carolina Martinez, Nathalie Bourassa, Nathalie Jourdain, Philippe Labelle and Hubert Labelle
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:752
  10. Safe and accurate execution of surgeries to date mainly rely on preoperative plans generated based on preoperative imaging. Frequent intraoperative interaction with such patient images during the intervention ...

    Authors: Hooman Esfandiari, Pascal Troxler, Sandro Hodel, Daniel Suter, Mazda Farshad and Philipp Fürnstahl
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:701
  11. Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMD) are associated with depression, fatigue, and disturbed sleep – symptoms that often impact behavior and activity. Patient reported outcomes (PROs) are a way of colle...

    Authors: Elizabeth Mollard, Sofia Pedro, Rebecca Schumacher and Kaleb Michaud
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:566
  12. Smartphones provide opportunities for musculoskeletal research: they are integrated in participants’ daily lives and can be used to collect patient-reported outcomes as well as sensor data from large groups of...

    Authors: Anna L. Beukenhorst, Katie L. Druce and Diederik De Cock
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:487
  13. Individuals with locomotive syndrome (LS) require nursing care services owing to problems with locomotion and the musculoskeletal system. Individuals with LS generally have a reduced walking speed compared wit...

    Authors: Yuki Saito, Tomoya Ishida, Yoshiaki Kataoka, Ryo Takeda, Shigeru Tadano, Teppei Suzuki, Kentaro Nakamura, Akimi Nakata, Satoshi Osuka, Satoshi Yamada, Mina Samukawa and Harukazu Tohyama
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:457
  14. Arthritis is a common condition, and the prompt and accurate assessment of hand arthritis in primary care is an area of unmet clinical need. We have previously developed and tested a screening tool combining m...

    Authors: Mark Reed, Broderick Rampono, Wallace Turner, Andreea Harsanyi, Andrew Lim, Shereen Paramalingam, David Massasso, Vivek Thakkar, Maninder Mundae and Elliot Rampono
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:433
  15. The purpose of the present study was to explore the feasibility of collecting GPS data and the usability of GPS data to evaluate associations between the training load and onset of running-related knee injurie...

    Authors: Kyra L. A. Cloosterman, Tryntsje Fokkema, Robert-Jan de Vos, Ben van Oeveren, Sita M. A. Bierma-Zeinstra and Marienke van Middelkoop
    Citation: BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation 2022 14:78
  16. Guidance for choosing face-to-face vs remote consultations (RCs) encourages clinicians to consider patient preferences, however, little is known about acceptability of, and preferences for RCs, particularly am...

    Authors: Zoe Paskins, Laurna Bullock, Fay Manning, Simon Bishop, Paul Campbell, Elizabeth Cottrell, G. P. Partner, Clare Jinks, Melanie Narayanasamy, Ian C. Scott, Opinder Sahota and Sarah Ryan
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:312
  17. Musculoskeletal disorders can contribute to injurious falls and incur significant societal and healthcare burdens. Identification of fallers from non-fallers through wearable-based gait analysis can facilitate...

    Authors: Ralph Jasper Mobbs, Pragadesh Natarajan, R. Dineth Fonseka, Callum Betteridge, Daniel Ho, Redmond Mobbs, Luke Sy and Monish Maharaj
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:304
  18. Osteoarthritis is a common and disabling condition that places heavy burden to individuals and healthcare systems. Patient education is a facilitator in the treatment decision making process, aiming to develop...

    Authors: Kangping Song, Siyi Zhu, Xiaona Xiang, Lin Wang, Suhang Xie, Huizhen Liu, Wenjie Yang and Chengqi He
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:274
  19. The evidence base for the impact of digital health on musculoskeletal (MSK) outcomes is growing, but it is unclear how much digital MSK programs address pain and function in the intermediate and long term.

    Authors: Grace Wang, Manshu Yang, Mindy Hong, Jeffrey Krauss and Jeannie F. Bailey
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:237
  20. Hip osteoarthritis (OA) is a leading cause of musculoskeletal pain. Exercise is a core recommended treatment. Despite some clinical guidelines also recommending weight loss for hip OA, there is no evidence fro...

    Authors: Michelle Hall, Rana S. Hinman, Gabrielle Knox, Libby Spiers, Priya Sumithran, Nicholas J. Murphy, Fiona McManus, Karen E. Lamb, Flavia Cicuittini, David J. Hunter, Stephen P. Messier and Kim L. Bennell
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:215
  21. In the context of the German contact restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic of March 2020, an online-based consultation system was established in our university orthopedic outpatient department to maintain ...

    Authors: Pierre Hepp, Georg Osterhoff, Peter Melcher, Ralf Henkelmann and Jan Theopold
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:196
  22. Physical activity (PA) may improve work ability and health in individuals with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis (OA). The use of wearable activity trackers (WATs) has been shown to increase PA and improve other ...

    Authors: Elin Östlind, Frida Eek, Kjerstin Stigmar, Anita Sant’Anna and Eva Ekvall Hansson
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:112
  23. Acute musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is very common and associated with impaired productivity and high economic burden. Access to timely and personalized, evidence-based care is key to improve outcomes while reduc...

    Authors: Fabíola Costa, Dora Janela, Maria Molinos, Jorge Lains, Gerard E. Francisco, Virgílio Bento and Fernando Dias Correia
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:29
  24. The cartilage segmentation algorithms make it possible to accurately evaluate the morphology and degeneration of cartilage. There are some factors (location of cartilage subregions, hydrarthrosis and cartilage...

    Authors: Ping Zhang, Ran Xu Zhang, Xiao Shuai Chen, Xiao Yue Zhou, Esther Raithel, Jian Ling Cui and Jian Zhao
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2022 23:19
  25. Total hip arthroplasty (THA) for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a complex procedure due to associated anatomical abnormalities. We studied the extent to which preoperative digital templating is re...

    Authors: Emelie Kristoffersson, Volker Otten and Sead Crnalic
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:942
  26. Barriers and facilitators to physical activity in inflammatory arthritis can be assessed through the Inflammatory arthritis FAcilitators and Barriers (IFAB) questionnaire. The objective was to measure the corr...

    Authors: Thomas Davergne, Rawdha Tekaya, Jérémie Sellam, Anne Tournadre, Stéphane Mitrovic, Adeline Ruyssen-Witrand, Christophe Hudry, Sabrina Dadoun, Jérôme Avouac, Bruno Fautrel and Laure Gossec
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:915
  27. Virtual reality training (VRT) is a new method for the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal impairments. However, the clinical and central effects of VRT have not been investigated in patients with patellofemoral...

    Authors: Naghmeh Ebrahimi, Zahra Rojhani-Shirazi, Amin Kordi Yoosefinejad and Mohammad Nami
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:900
  28. Research is often undertaken using patient-reported outcomes from questionnaires. Achieving a high response rate demands expensive and time-consuming methods like telephone reminders. However, it is unknown wh...

    Authors: Christina Lyngsø Udby, Allan Riis, Janus Laust Thomsen and Nanna Rolving
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:893
  29. Prevalence for knee osteoarthritis is rising in both Sweden and globally due to increased age and obesity in the population. This has subsequently led to an increasing demand for knee arthroplasties. Correct d...

    Authors: Simon Olsson, Ehsan Akbarian, Anna Lind, Ali Sharif Razavian and Max Gordon
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:844
  30. Monitoring technology is increasingly accessible to recreational runners. Our aim was to examine patterns of technology use in recreational runners, and its potential association with injury.

    Authors: Richard S. Mayne, Chris M. Bleakley and Mark Matthews
    Citation: BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation 2021 13:116
  31. Video consultations have proven to be an efficient source of support for patient-doctor interactions and have become increasingly used in orthopedics, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study analyz...

    Authors: K Estel, G Weber, F Fellmer, L Richter, S Tsitsilonis, C Willy and DA Back
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:774
  32. Shifts in treatment strategies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have made ambulatory care more labour-intensive. These developments have prompted innovative care models, including mobile health (mHealth) applicat...

    Authors: Michaël Doumen, René Westhovens, Sofia Pazmino, Delphine Bertrand, Veerle Stouten, Claudia Neys, Nelly Creten, Els Van Laeken, Patrick Verschueren and Diederik De Cock
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:746
  33. Despite well-established benefits of physical activity for knee osteoarthritis (OA), nine of ten people with knee OA are inactive. People with knee OA who are inactive often believe that physical activity is d...

    Authors: Tasha R. Stanton, Felicity A. Braithwaite, David Butler, G. Lorimer Moseley, Catherine Hill, Rachel Milte, Julie Ratcliffe, Carol Maher, Christy Tomkins-Lane, Brian W. Pulling, Erin MacIntyre, Adrian Esterman, Ty Stanford, Hopin Lee, Francois Fraysse, Ben Metcalf…
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:738
  34. The objective of this study was to assess the accuracy and reliability of and time taken by a novel method using the built-in photo-edit function of smartphones compared with PACS in measuring hallux valgus pa...

    Authors: Tianji Huang, Lin Wang, Chao Lu, Weiyang Zhong, Zenghui Zhao and Xiaoji Luo
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:716
  35. Neuromuscular and quadriceps exercises have been shown to be effective approaches to relieve pain and to improve function for patients with knee osteoarthritis. In this study, we aim to provide an informative ...

    Authors: Lin Wang, Suhang Xie, Tianjie Bao, Siyi Zhu, Qiu Liang, Xiaoyi Wang, Ruishi Zhang, Xiaona Xiang, Chunping Du and Chengqi He
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:470
  36. Augmented Reality (AR) is a rapidly emerging technology finding growing acceptance and application in different fields of surgery. Various studies have been performed evaluating the precision and accuracy of A...

    Authors: Cyrill Dennler, David E. Bauer, Anne-Gita Scheibler, José Spirig, Tobias Götschi, Philipp Fürnstahl and Mazda Farshad
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:451
  37. Less experienced clinicians sometimes make misdiagnosis of hip fractures. We developed computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) system for hip fractures on plain X-rays using a deep learning model trained on a large dat...

    Authors: Yoichi Sato, Yasuhiko Takegami, Takamune Asamoto, Yutaro Ono, Tsugeno Hidetoshi, Ryosuke Goto, Akira Kitamura and Seiwa Honda
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:407
  38. As the primary treatment for adhesive capsulitis, intensive and accurate home exercise is as important as physical therapy in hospitals. Augmented reality (AR)-based telerehabilitation has been implemented rec...

    Authors: Seung Mi Yeo, Ji Young Lim, Jong Geol Do, Jae-Young Lim, Jong In Lee and Ji Hye Hwang
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:386
  39. Rehabilitation is seen as crucial in dealing with the demographic change in many European countries. In Germany, for example, after having stayed in a rehabilitation center, patients have the possibility to pa...

    Authors: Darko Jekauc, Sabine Rayling, Sara Klopp, Detlef Schmidt, Lena-Marie Rittmann and Julian Fritsch
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:366
  40. To explore orthopaedic and musculoskeletal clinicians’ views and experiences of legal, safety, safeguarding and security issues regarding the use of virtual consultations (VC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. A s...

    Authors: Anthony W Gilbert, Gregory Booth, Tony Betts and Andy Goldberg
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:245
  41. Although it is well-established that osteoarthritis (OA) impairs daily-life gait, objective gait assessments are not part of routine clinical evaluation. Wearable inertial sensors provide an easily accessible ...

    Authors: Ramon J. Boekesteijn, José M. H. Smolders, Vincent J. J. F. Busch, Alexander C. H. Geurts and Katrijn Smulders
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:242
  42. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most promising areas in medicine with many possibilities for improving health and wellness. Already today, diagnostic decision support systems may help patients to es...

    Authors: Lia Rigamonti, Katharina Estel, Tobias Gehlen, Bernd Wolfarth, James B. Lawrence and David A. Back
    Citation: BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation 2021 13:13
  43. Although telehealth is becoming more popular for delivery of care for individuals with musculoskeletal pain, to our knowledge telehealth has not been used to manage Achilles tendinopathy. This research aimed t...

    Authors: F. Hasani, P. Malliaras, T. Haines, S. E. Munteanu, J. White, J. Ridgway, P. Nicklen, A. Moran and P. Jansons
    Citation: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2021 22:138