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SignatureBack: interactive digital interventions

Interactive digital interventions to support individualised self-management of low back pain.

Back pain is a common cause of disability ranked as single biggest contributor to disability world-wide.

Self-management, including components on increasing knowledge, monitoring of symptoms and function and encouraging physical activity and exercise are recommended within clinical guidelines as the key strategies for lower back pain (LBP) management.

There is growing interest in using digital interventions (interventions accessed via computers, mobile phones and hand-held devices, or apps)  for self-management with educational and learning components to help people to gain control over their condition and restore autonomy.  

The problem is that digital interventions supporting LBP self-management typically deliver generic educational and learning material that is pain rather than function focused. Whilst this may help people to better manage their pain and flare ups, the impact on function, physical activity or exercise behaviours remains limited.

This is more important, as people with LBP invariably operate with demonstrable physical aberrations (reduced range of motion, altered muscle function, reduced sense of balance), are generally physically deconditioned with low exercise tolerance and presenting with poor coping strategies and significant movement anxiety. Another primary limitation of digital interventions is its inability to consider the unique circumstances of any given person.

Our solution

SignatureBack utilises self-regulatory processes including physical activity goal-setting, self-monitoring and feedback and offers highly individualsed self-management information, tools and support on basis of a self-assessment.

There are three platforms to deliver Signature Back:

  1. Back-on-LineTM - a questionnaire to determine the type of back pain
  2. Back-to-FitTM - a posture and movement self-assessment feature to prescribe specific exercises
  3. Physio-in-the-PocketTM - to utilise sensors and other wearables for patient monitoring and feedback.

Funding

Research underpinning this impact case is funded by the Welsh Government's and the UK Government's joint Work and Health Unit set up by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Transforming back pain through individualised assessment, monitoring and self-management

The tools will fundamentally transform the approach of managing LBP with a series of online digital platforms that deliver highly individualised self-management for people with different types of back pain. 

These platforms have a significant commercial and exploitable Intellectual Property potential, with an established product definition as ‘non-medical device’ under the MHRC guidance. Patients and partners, including Welsh Government, UK Government, RunWales, Sport Wales Institute and Welsh Athletics, are co-producers as well as our international expert group consortia contributing with research and public understanding of pain management.

With collaborations from Laurie Needham, Professor Paul Hodges, Professor Brian Caulfield and Professor Mohand Kechadi.


Meet our experts

Dr Liba Sheeran

Dr Liba Sheeran

Reader: Physiotherapy

Email:
sheeranl@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 206 87757
Dr Rebecca Hemming

Dr Rebecca Hemming

Lecturer: Physiotherapy

Email:
hemmingrl@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2068 8599
Professor Robert van Deursen

Professor Robert van Deursen

Professor of Rehabilitation Science

Email:
vandeursenr@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 206 87687
Professor Valerie Sparkes

Professor Valerie Sparkes

Director: Biomechanics and Bioengineering Research Centre Versus Arthritis

Email:
sparkesv@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 206 87560

Selected publications


This research was made possible through our close partnership with and support from: