Wearable diagnostic tools help pinpoint spine issues and personalize treatments

Safdar_Marras_Purmessur_ImageRTFA multi-disciplinary team of engineers, orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons at the Ohio State Spine Research Institute in collaboration with physicians at the Ohio State Comprehensive Spine Center have developed a wearable diagnostic tool called the Clinical Lumbar Motion Monitor (CLMM) to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with spine-related problems.

The CLMM is worn on the back and tracks a patient's range of motion as the patient performs various prescribed movements. Based on these movements, the CLMM creates a statistical analysis of the extent and nature of a patient’s impairment.

"The CLMM report can help physicians decide if the problem is muscular, or a more serious structural, disk or bone problem. It also enables physicians to quantitatively assess and track a patient's response to treatment," explains William Marras, PhD, Honda Chair Professor in the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering at Ohio State and executive and scientific director of the Spine Research Institute (pictured center).

For more complicated back issues, information gathered from the CLMM can be combined with CT and MRI data to provide a personalized model of a patient's spine. Modeling incorporates the material properties of the bone, muscle and ligament of the spine to determine the physical forces acting on the spine and back. Creating a spine model can take weeks, but the utility for treatment is unmatched.

"Once a personalized model is created, our orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons can perform virtual surgeries to assess the risks and benefits of various procedures or approaches before they even enter the surgery room," says Dr. Marras.

By working side-by-side with a team of clinicians at the Comprehensive Spine Center including orthopedic surgeon Safdar Khan, MD (pictured left) and biologist Devina Purmessur, PhD (pictured right), Dr. Marras has been able to refine the tools and directly demonstrate their efficacy. The next step will be to make these tools more readily available to clinicians at Ohio State and nationwide.

Ohio State and the Neurological Institute enable and foster the integrated work of multidisciplinary research teams such as this that examines spine function, disorders and methods to improve care.