While most people simply use their FitBits to track their steps and daily activity, one student intern at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI) is hoping to use these common fitness trackers to monitor the surgical recovery of patients. The goal of this newest clinical research project is to use data collected both before and after surgery — including walking data, heart rates and sleeping patterns — to determine how quickly surgical patients get back to their normal routines following surgery. Ultimately, the researcher hopes to demonstrate that the use of an activity monitor can help patients return to their daily lives faster.
The idea behind the study
PHLBI and the Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) — a division of PHLBI — are dedicated to advancing medical research that may lead to new treatments for chronic and serious conditions, including malignant pleural mesothelioma, which is an asbestos-related cancer.
As noted in a PHLBI blog post, this most recent research project is designed to help develop broader, more objective measuring techniques for a patient’s recovery following surgical procedures.
Currently, the time available for doctors to evaluate a patient’s recovery is extremely limited each day. Given this limited time, doctors may not be able to see every relevant detail, not to mention that most recoveries are evaluated subjectively.
However, with the use of activity trackers, recoveries may be measured by quantitative, objective data, thereby allowing for a “more reliable and complete representation” of a patient’s recovery, according to the recent PHLBI blog post. In addition, it is hoped that this data may help motivate patients during their recovery.
While this research project is currently in the pilot program — meaning the researcher is focused on making sure the data collected is accurate — she plans to move on to randomized trials soon.