CSIRO has collaborated with medical device manufacturer Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices to launch a digital platform trial that will use wearables and mobile technology to aid in the recovery of total knee replacement surgery.

The trial consists of a smartphone app called 'activateTKR' that provides patients with information such as physiotherapy demonstration videos, pre-surgery checklists, reminders and supportive information in text, video and audio format.

This app will be complemented with a wearable activity tracker to encourage basic exercise, track sleep and self-monitor progress.

The app will also link to a website where clinicians can configure individual physiotherapy programs and monitor patient progress remotely.

This trial was initiated following the 77 per cent rise in total knee replacement procedures in Australia between 2003 and 2014.

Up to 300 patients will be involved in the trial across five hospitals from multiple states in Australia.

Recruitment of patients is currently underway at Gosford Private Hospital in New South Wales, and the Mater Hospital and Mater Private Hospital in Brisbane.

According to CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity Director Dr Rob Grenfell, the trial has the potential to improve patient recovery rates for this major surgical procedure.

“As more Australians face surgical treatment for osteoarthritis, more work needs to be done to understand how we can deliver accessible and cost-effective services for patients and clinicians,” he said in a statement.

“This study will allow us to understand the ways in which the app changes the patient experience.”

Patient engagement both prior to knee replacement surgery and post-surgery during the rehabilitation process is crucial to ensure that patient mobility is restored as quickly as possible, according to Dr Michael Hunter, an orthopaedic specialist and member of the Australian Orthopaedic Association.

“Studies have demonstrated that sound pre-operative preparation and post-operative rehabilitative exercises following a total knee replacement can improve outcomes by increasing muscle strength, improving joint function, restoring functional mobility, preventing deep vein thrombosis and shortening recovery times,” he explained.

“The online portal will also provide instant access to patient recovery data enabling clinicians to act upon progress in real time fashion.”

Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices managing director Gavin Fox-Smith is hopeful the integration of technology in the knee replacement rehabilitation process will shed more light on the procedure and its effects on all parties involved.

“We believe the use of innovative technology combined with sound clinical research practices through this clinical trial will provide information to support the best  outcomes for patients, surgeons and hospitals,” he said.

“CSIRO is a leader in digital health research, so it made sense for us to collaborate with them for this research.”