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Feasibility and Outcomes of Pt PAL Implementation in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury or Disorders

Funder: Craig H Neilsen Foundation

Funding period
USD 48 K
Funding amount
1) Project Title: Feasibility and Outcomes of Pt Pal Program Implementation in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury or Disorders (SCI/D)

2) Project Description: Burke will pilot usage and feasibility of the innovative Pt Pal app and Fitbit watches over a one-year period among 20 patients with SCI/D who are receiving outpatient rehabilitation at Burke, which includes physical, occupational and speech therapies, as well as physician care. The project will also include 20 participants in a control group with similar ages and functional levels who are not using the app.

Pt Pal is a cloud-based clinical patient engagement platform that enables physicians, therapists, and other clinicians to manage patient care between visits by sending customized treatment plans, education, therapies, home exercises and surveys directly to a patient or caregiver’s smartphone or tablet where it is stored centrally. It eliminates the need to provide excessive paperwork that can be easily lost, damaged or cumbersome to hold. Its utilization may help patients and caregivers overcome potential barriers they face when returning home and improve the transition of care from inpatient to outpatient settings and community reintegration. Therapists prescribe exercises and education during therapy sessions which are uploaded into the Pt Pal app. The participants will then do these exercises 3-4 times a week at home in between their therapy sessions to maintain or build strength and skills. They or their caregivers then log the exercises as completed in the app.

In addition to utilizing the patient or caregiver’s devices for Pt Pal, which is cost-saving, portable and convenient, participants will also be given a Fitbit Alta HR watch to further monitor their daily activity and heart rate levels. Fitbit communicates directly to Pt Pal so the data recorded by the watch will be transferred into the app to help provide a more robust assessment on movement. The information that is logged in Pt Pal will be viewable by clinicians and therapists who can monitor the participants’ activity levels remotely to see if they are following their exercise plans and staying active. A decreasing trend in activity levels for those utilizing Pt Pal can indicate medical illness, depression, loss of motivation or change in family dynamics. This project will enable clinicians to detect this trend early on and follow up with immediate interventions to reduce further issues and complications.

3) Expected Outcomes: Burke estimates that more than 70% of project participants will use Pt Pal at least 3x/week to complete their home exercises. Via surveys, these participants, caregivers and clinicians will assess the technology as feasible and effective with encouraging individuals with SCI to stay in compliance with therapy plans and be active participants in their care; help to improve functional outcomes and quality of life; and motivate them to maintain an active healthy lifestyle post injury.
(CHN: COandI chn:wdg)
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    1103 Clinical Sciences


    1117 Public Health and Health Services

  • RCDC

    Injury (total) Accidents/Adverse Effects

  • RCDC

    Injury - Trauma - (Head and Spine)

  • RCDC


  • RCDC

    Spinal Cord Injury

  • RCDC

    Behavioral and Social Science

  • RCDC

    Clinical Research

  • RCDC


  • RCDC

    Physical Rehabilitation

  • RCDC




  • Health Research Areas


  • Broad Research Areas

    Health Services Research