A rehabilitation app for patients following Achilles tendon rupture
Anne-Marie Hutchison PhD, MSc, BSc Hons, MCSP, Consultant MSK physiotherapist
Swansea Morriston Achilles Rupture Treatment (SMART) team
Swansea Bay University Health Board
Industry Partner Yellow Sub Creative Ltd.
Achilles tendon ruptures (snap / break of the Achilles tendon) are common. Management of this injury involves an extensive period of immobilisation (10 weeks) followed by an intensive period of rehabilitation (daily exercise regime) for up to 8 months.
At a time of austerity in the NHS it has been difficult for physiotherapy resources to provide the level of support that patients would ideally like following this injury. The COVID-19 pandemic has additionally exacerbated this problem.
Further to the feedback from our patients, we set out to develop a rehabilitation app which provides the patients with a daily educational platform and exercise program. Supplementing current physiotherapy care, with the app may potentially result in better support and therefore outcomes for patients as well as cost saving for the health board compared to the current service of limited physiotherapy.
To our knowledge a rehabilitation App for Achilles rupture patients would be innovative in rehabilitation medicine. If found to be successful for the Achilles tendon rehabilitation the concept can be rolled out to other areas of orthopaedic and rehabilitation medicine.
The objective of the project is to determine the impact of 'Pop2Hop' a rehabilitation App for Achilles tendon ruptures on both patients and the health board.
To achieve this we will investigate the impact pre and post app upon:
1) Patient satisfaction / experience
2) Patient related outcome scores
3) Complication rate e.g. re-ruptures.
4) Cost (number of physiotherapy appointments required)
The development of the app has required overcoming a number of bureaucracy challenges, this has been achieved via extensive collaborate working: with a number of internal and external parties, including; The Bevan Commission, industrial partners, The Medical Health Regulatory Authority, patients , local leisure centres, the health board foot and ankle team (consultants and physiotherapists), legal team, research and development team, medical illustrations, information governance, IT, cooperative board and charity funds.
Images: the Pop2Hop app, featuring past patient and app mentor, Colin Charvis
The app is now in the final stages of development. Once complete we will investigate the impact of the app on patient outcome, satisfaction and complication rate as well as on the health board. Once this study is complete provided there are no adverse effects found the app will be launched on the app store. The app is not for profit and will therefore be free to download. Thanks to the support of the health boards charitable funds a Welsh version of the app will also be launched.
Bevan Exemplar Experience
Having failed on a number of occasions to develop the app via other avenues. I am extremely thankful to the Bevan commission for agreeing to support this innovative piece of work. The professionalism of the commission has been incredible. I have been provided with support at the highest level. Chris Martin my mentor in particular is thanked, for his willingness to part knowledge as well as providing me with support at every stage of the project. Myself as well as a number of departments in Swansea Bay Health Board have undoubtedly grown and learnt from being given this opportunity of exploring health technology as a solution to a rehabilitation problem. We are very lucky to have The Bevan Commission as a supporting party to NHS Wales.
Bevan Exemplar Showcase 2021