Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a burden on the healthcare system. Exercise therapy is an important part of MSD rehabilitation. Motion detection systems are developed to support exercise therapy settings. This systematic review aims 1) to investigate which types of motion detection systems have been used as a technological support for exercise therapy, 2) to investigate the characteristics of motion detection supported exercise therapy in relation to its clinical indications, and 3) to evaluate the effectiveness of motion detection supported exercise therapy, in MSD rehabilitation.
A systematic literature search for RCTs was performed in six databases (PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, ACM, Cochrane, and IEEE). Studies eligible for inclusion had to evaluate exercise therapy for persons with MSDs, provide a motion detection system capable of as well measuring active movement of the participant during exercise therapy as evaluating the movement in order to provide qualitative feedback, and should present at least one measure of the following ICF function (pain, muscle strength, mobility), activity (disease-related functional disability, balance) or participation (quality of life) level. Two reviewers independently screened articles, appraised study quality, extracted data, and evaluated effectiveness of selected outcome measures.
Nine RCTs (n=432 participants) were included. Eight different motion detection technologies were used such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer etc. All systems provided visual feedback. Knee disorders were evaluated most frequently, followed by low back pain and shoulder disorders. Therapy consisted of mobility, balance or proprioception exercises. Main outcomes were pain, disability, mobility and muscle strength. Motion detection supported exercise therapy showed similar or enhanced results on all outcomes compared to conventional exercise therapy. However, a limitation of this study was the low methodological quality of the studies.
To date, a variety of motion detection systems have been developed to support the rehabilitation of MSDs. Results show similar effectiveness of motion detection supported exercise therapy compared to conventional exercise therapy. More research is needed to provide insight in the added value of motion detection systems in musculoskeletal rehabilitation.