IMPROVing PATIENT ADHERENCE TO PHYSICAL THERAPY HOME EXERCISE PROGRAMS


 

PROJECT GOALS

 

For my graduate thesis, I decided to focus on the physical therapy (PT) space. The project began with a broad scope; I only knew that my deliverables were a product, a business plan and an investor pitch.

 
 

Discovery Research

 

To find opportunities, I immersed myself in the world of PT. I interviewed patients and providers, observed sessions in the clinic and at home, and even volunteered for several months at a clinic to learn about daily operations. Following the initial discovery research, I used my time at the clinic to check in regularly with therapists, patients, and staff members about the concepts I was developing.

 
First-hand empathy building 

First-hand empathy building 

Observing a session at the clinic

Observing a session at the clinic

 

research learnings

 

I found that patient non-adherence was one of the largest frustrations for therapists as well as one of the biggest barriers to program effectiveness. From there, I investigated the underpinnings of successful adherence to home PT programs.   

 
 
 

a framework for UNDERSTANDING ADHERENCE

 
 

I found that adherence relies on a combination of trust and motivation, and that personalization is key. Patients want to feel that the therapist understands the unique problems of their bodies, that they are being treated as individuals. A generic program doesn’t ‘feel’ like care. 

 
The physical therapist listens to your body the way a mental therapist listens to your emotions.
— PT Patient
 

Design solution

 

Movementor is a software system that tracks and improves patient adherence to prescribed PT home exercise programs, using motion capture technology. It allows therapists to record patient motion and muscle use during the session, so patients can practice with their personal perfect form at home.

I worked with filmmakers to create a video explaining the concept:

 
 
 

I also developed a business plan to bring the design to market:

 
 

User feedback

I love that it reduces the time required to do documentation. I would use this with 100% of my patients.
— Physical Therapist
This is great! It would give us a more objective idea of what is going on at home
— Physical Therapist