Motion Sensors for Pain Management

Conventional physical therapy requires frequent monitoring and training by a physical therapist. You may grow impatient or quit physical therapy because it is an inconvenience that takes time off work and family. And you may not observe results for months, which may be emotionally demanding. 

But what if you can see your results in real-time? Or if you might be treated at home instead of grounded in a facility?

Enter motion-sensing technology. 

Motion-sensing technology 

Motion sensors transform how machines interact with a human. They are small, cost-effective wearable devices that can accurately measure:

  • Gait 
  • Range of motions 
  • Repetitions 
  • Trajectories 
  • Speed 
  • Distance 
  • Pressure 

Benefits of motion-sensing technology

Portability means remote access

Motion sensors are compact, portable, and lightweight. Thus, it gives you a choice to practice at home while still transferring real-time data back to your physical therapist. Your physical therapists can extend care to you even if you are unable to visit the clinic. 

Its convenience may encourage you to practice more and participate in functional exercise. You can also wear the motion-sensing devices anytime to monitor yourself, keeping you mindful of your movements and how they contribute to pain. 

Lower cost of equipment could also make recurrent physical therapy less cost-prohibitive. 

Remote access leads to more exercise

When you need to learn new movement skills, you have to receive feedback about your performance to correct yourselves. 

Wireless motion sensors can provide you with easy-to-understand and accurate feedback. 

More exercise leads to better data

Personalized data and improvement in data quality

Physical therapists tend to be blind to your progress (or lack thereof), mainly if you are observed only once per week at your in-office appointment. 

By using motion-sensing technology during exercises, you can double the amount of data you’re providing physical therapists. More data means more thorough recovery treatments and can also reveal new patterns that result in a better, more scientific understanding of other patients. 

Identify new movement patterns

Traditional physical therapy requires a physical therapist to coach you through the motions, observing forms, and counting reps – which is challenging to quantify. 

Motion-sensing technology can identify new patterns in a range of motion, balance, exertion, and more. Measuring the increase in mobility via motion sensors would be far easier and more precise as compared to that by a physical therapist. 

Adherence to exercise routine

Data can reveal if you have completed the exercise routine, too. It could show whether you have gone through the motions and whether you put in the necessary effort. This keeps you accountable while helping physical therapists customize treatment plans and expedite recovery. 

Better data leads to more effective treatment

Real-time data from motion sensors can allow physical therapists to identify the pitfalls in your progress better and revealing what you might not be relaying. Motion sensors can expose problems that you and your physical therapist don’t see. It can pick up on even a slight change in gait or balance, which might be invisible to the naked eye. 

The motion sensors will give your physical therapist better insight and measurable data on how you are progressing. It provides a holistic perspective of your motions, not just the condition you are currently examining. Consequently, they’ll know precisely when you are ready to move to a more vigorous level in your treatment.

When you have metrics by which to quantify your results, you might be more inclined to go to your physical therapy sessions. With more diligent practice and less lag time between exercises and appointments, the motion sensors may prevent you from regressing and set you on a more aggressive recovery plan. 

Effective treatment shortens the road to recovery

You are already burdened with the responsibility of your recovery. Going on faith alone may be overwhelming. Willpower can sputter out without results. 

But the next-generation data that motion-sensing technology promises can lead to remarkable breakthroughs in physical therapy. More effective practices might be the motivation you need to put the faith back in your treatments – and yourselves.

Motion-sensing technology for pain management and rehabilitation 

Motion sensors for low back pain

People with low back pain may often practice movements in front of a mirror so that the spine movements can be monitored. Without experience, however, it’s often difficult to accurately assess the spinal movement. As such, a mirror may not be the most reliable tool for providing feedback. 

In contrast, wireless motion sensors will improve spinal movement control and provide foolproof postural feedback in patients suffering from chronic low back pain (1). The individualized modification of movement and posture results in a significant and sustained reduction in pain and activity limitation (2). This wearable may also be used for early diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis and to minimize back and neck pain that results from incorrect posture. 

Motion sensors for upper body rehabilitation

Motion sensors may be a discriminative wearable tool for the monitoring and provision of feedback on posture and upper body movements in stroke rehabilitation (3). It can also be used to measure the planar active cervical range of motion and associated coupling motions in patients with neck pain (4).

Motion sensors for shoulder rehabilitation

Complex shoulder range of motion can potentially be substituted with a remote motion-based machine learning software kit, especially for telemonitoring before and after orthopedic surgery (5). 

Motion sensors for knee pain

Wearable motion sensors, in combination with machine learning techniques, may reduce knee joint load and minimize pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The use of wearable sensors for knee osteoarthritis patients is also shown to identify changes in gait patterns in response to exercise therapy (6). 


The motion sensor market is flourishing with the arrival of wearable motion sensor technology. It is a potentially cost-effective alternative to expensive conventional pain interventions.

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One Response

  1. I had back surgery in April 2019. I currently need hip replacement on my right hip. My knees are hurting. My left knee hurts bad when I bend it.

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