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Improving Exercise Performance with an Accelerometer-Based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Bittel, Daniel C. PT, DPT; Bittel, Adam J. PT, DPT; Williams, Christine PT, DPT; Elazzazi, Ashraf PT, PhD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: May 2017 - Volume 96 - Issue 5 - p 307–314
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000618
Original Research Articles

Objective: Proper exercise form is critical for the safety and efficacy of therapeutic exercise. This research examines if a novel smartphone application, designed to monitor and provide real-time corrections during resistance training, can reduce performance errors and elicit a motor learning response.

Design: Forty-two participants aged 18 to 65 years were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Both groups were tested for the number of movement errors made during a 10-repetition set completed at baseline, immediately after, and 1 to 2 weeks after a single training session of knee extensions. The treatment group trained with real-time, smartphone-generated feedback, whereas the control subjects did not. Group performance (number of errors) was compared across test sets using a 2-factor mixed-model analysis of variance.

Results: No differences were observed between groups for age, sex, or resistance training experience. There was a significant interaction between test set and group. The treatment group demonstrated fewer errors on posttests 1 and 2 compared with pretest (P < 0.05). There was no reduction in the number of errors on any posttest for control subjects.

Conclusion: Smartphone apps, such as the one used in this study, may enhance patient supervision, safety, and exercise efficacy across rehabilitation settings. A single training session with the app promoted motor learning and improved exercise performance.

From the Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri (DCB, AJB); and Physical Therapy Program, School of Health Professions and Education, Utica College, Utica, New York (CW, AE).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Daniel C. Bittel, PT, DPT, Program in Physical Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8502, 4444 Forest Park Ave, St Louis, MO 63110.

This study protocol was approved by the institutional review board of Utica College.

The findings of this study were presented as part of a poster and platform presentation at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

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