Mobile Health Applications for Rehabilitation of Musculoskeletal Diseases of the Shoulder: A Systematic Analysis

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2021 May 24;278:195-202. doi: 10.3233/SHTI210069.


Rehabilitation of musculoskeletal diseases (MSD) of the shoulder is a multifaceted long-term process, which is often not transparent to affected patients. Mobile health applications (apps) have the potential to support this complex process by improving patients’ self-management skills. However, there seems to be a lack of apps providing a holistic approach to motivate and guide patients during the whole rehabilitation process. Therefore, a systematic analysis of apps on Google Play Store was conducted by two independent reviewers. A total of 3227 apps were identified, of which 64 met the eligibility criteria for the qualitative analysis. The majority of analyzed apps were developed generally for patients with MSD of the shoulder, rarely for specific diseases (individual needs of patients). The majority of apps focus on the provision of information, exercise training, and alternative medicine. Apps for diagnostics, inpatient treatment, and self-management, especially for multiple rehabilitation phases, are rare or even not existent. Game design elements are seldom used. If there are any, then simple to implement ones, e.g. messages and progress bars. The (psychological) effects of individual game design elements on patients seem to be neglected, when selecting and implementing game-components.

PMID:34042894 | DOI:10.3233/SHTI210069

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