Body movement as a biomarker for use in chronic pain rehabilitation: An embedded analysis of an RCT of a virtual reality solution for adults with chronic pain

Sammeli Liikkanen, Mika Mäkinen, Teppo Huttunen, Toni Sarapohja, Carina Stenfors, Christopher Eccleston

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5 Citations (SciVal)


INTRODUCTION: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a major public health problem. Reliably measuring the effects of chronic pain on movement and activity, and any changes due to treatment, is a healthcare challenge. A recently published paper demonstrated that a novel digital therapeutic (DTxP) was efficacious in reducing fear of movement and increasing the quality of life of adult patients with moderate to severe CLBP. In this paper, we report a study of how data from wearable devices collected in this study could be used as a digital measure for use in studies of chronic low back pain.

METHODS: Movement, electrodermal recording, general activity and clinical assessment data were collected in a clinical trial of a novel digital therapeutic intervention (DTxP) by using the sensors in commercial Garmin Vivosmart 4, Empatica Embrace2 and Oculus Quest wearables. Wearable data were collected during and between the study interventions (frequent treatment sessions of DTxP). Data were analyzed using exploratory statistical analysis.

RESULTS: A pattern of increased longitudinal velocity in the movement data collected with right-hand, left-hand, and head sensors was observed in the study population. Correlations were observed with the changes in clinical scales (Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia, EQ5D Overall health VAS, and EQ5D QoL score). The strongest correlation was observed with the increased velocity of head and right-hand sensors (Spearman correlation with increasing head sensor velocity and Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia -0.45, Overall health VAS +0.67 and EQ5D QoL score -0.66). The sample size limited interpretation of electrodermal and general activity data.

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: We found a novel digital signal for use in monitoring the efficacy of a digital therapeutics (DTxP) in adults with CLBP. We discuss the potential use of such movement based digital markers as surrogate or additional endpoints in studies of chronic musculoskeletal pain.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085791
JournalFrontiers in Pain Research
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

This study has received support from Business Finland, the Finnish government organization for innovation funding and trade, travel, and investment promotion.

Data availability statement
The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.


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