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The Effectiveness of Technology-Supported Exercise Therapy for Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review

Matheve, Thomas MSc; Brumagne, Simon PhD; Timmermans, Annick A.A. PhD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: May 2017 - Volume 96 - Issue 5 - p 347–356
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000615
Literature Review

Abstract: Various technological systems have been developed to assist exercise therapy for low back pain. The aim of this systematic review was to provide an overview and to assess the effectiveness of the available technology-supported exercise therapy (TSET) programs for low back pain. The electronic databases Pubmed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PEDro, IEEE, and ACM were searched until January 2016. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) using electronic technological systems simultaneously with exercise therapy for patients with low back pain were included. Twenty-five RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Seventeen studies involved patients with chronic low back pain, and electromyography biofeedback was the most prevalent type of technological support. This review shows that TSET seems to improve pain, disability, and quality of life for patients with low back pain, and that a standard treatment combined with an additional TSET program might be superior to a standard treatment alone. However, TSET seems not more effective compared to other interventions or a placebo intervention for improving these outcomes, which may partially be explained by the analytical approach of the current TSET-programs. For most technologies, only a limited number of RCTs are available, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of individual technological systems.

From the Rehabilitation Research Center (REVAL), Biomed, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium (TM, AAAT); and KU Leuven–University of Leuven, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Leuven, Belgium (SB).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Thomas Matheve, MSc, Hasselt University, Agoralaan, Bldg A, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium.

Preliminary results were presented (poster presentation) at the 15th world congress of pain, October 6–11, 2014, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and at the 7th biennal congress of the Belgian Back Society, November 29, 2014, Ghent, Belgium.

Author contributions: The systematic search, screening of articles, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment was performed by T.M. and A.T. The draft was written by T.M., and A.T. and S.B. revised the manuscript for content and language. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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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