New tool shows promise in helping people manage traumatic brain injuries one pace at a time
LONDON, ON- A team at Lawson Health Research Institute and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, has created a new online tool called MyBrainPacer™ App to help assist people living with a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).
mTBI’s, including concussions, may come with lasting effects that can alter a person’s life. Although a person with an mTBI may appear fine on the outside, many have to pace their day-to-day activities in order to allow the time needed for the brain to properly heal. That’s where the MyBrainPacer™ App can come into play as a helpful resource.
“By documenting activity levels over time, patients and their clinicians can better understand what activities are linked to worsening symptoms, which they can therefore avoid,” explains Dr. Dalton Wolfe, Lawson Scientist.
The online application is being used as a research tool, allowing Dr. Wolfe and his team to track its efficacy. Much like point tracking used by dieters to monitor food choices, through MyBrainPacer™ App, users can assign values to tasks like driving, grocery shopping, screen use and exercise so they can plan and pace their daily activity. Individual users are given a total number of points per day that will keep their persisting symptoms in the “safe range.” As users track their symptoms through the app, the app adjusts the daily point value to what is best for the user. The app is based on St. Joseph’s Pacing and Planning Program, which has helped hundreds of concussion patients achieve their recovery goals.
“By putting the app in the hands of patients and the clinicians who treat them, the app has the potential to give us data that traces the recovery patterns of patients and how that relates to the activities that they participate in over time,” adds Dr. Wolfe. “This will enable us to document safe levels of activity for persons with specific characteristics or symptom profiles, which could be the key to unravelling better treatment strategies.”
After a number of concussions, study participant Cindy Vanderveen, has been using the app to manage her brain injury and has noticed a positive change.
“In the beginning I wasn’t able to drive farther than five minutes at a time,” remembers Cindy. “My care team at St. Joseph’s recommended MyBrainPacer™ App to help me plan and pace my day. Once I began to use the app to plan and track my activities, my symptoms dramatically decreased. I still have bad days and some tasks are harder than others, but through using MyBrainPacer™ App, I am able to do more activities independently and I am 90 per cent back to who I was.”
Currently anyone with an mTBI can enroll as a study participant on the MyBrainPacer™ App by visiting mybrainpacer.ca. The research team is hoping to enroll approximately five-thousand users.
The creation of the app has been made possible by funding provided by the Cowan Foundation and other community supporters through St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation.
Lawson Health Research Institute is one of Canada’s top hospital-based research institutes, tackling the most pressing challenges in health care. As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, our innovation happens where care is delivered. Lawson research teams are at the leading-edge of science with the goal of improving health and the delivery of care for patients. Working in partnership with Western University, our researchers are encouraged to pursue their curiosity, collaborate often and share their discoveries widely. Research conducted through Lawson makes a difference in the lives of patients, families and communities around the world. To learn more, visit www.lawsonresearch.ca.
Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a leading academic health care centre in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research. Through partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and our collaborative engagement with other health care and academic partners, St. Joseph’s has become an international leader in the areas of: chronic disease management; medical imaging; specialized mental health care; rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics; and surgery. St. Joseph’s operates through a wide range of hospital, clinic and long-term and community-based settings, including: St. Joseph’s Hospital; Parkwood Institute; Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care; and the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care. www.sjhc.london.on.ca
St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation gathers, grows and grants philanthropic funds to enable St. Joseph’s Health Care London to pursue excellence in care, teaching and research. Through donor support, the foundation contributes to advances in the delivery of patient care, specialized equipment, research initiatives and capital funds at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Parkwood Hospital, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care, Regional Mental Health Care London and Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care and Lawson Health Research Institute. As one of the largest charitable organizations in Southwestern Ontario, St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation is an accredited member of Imagine Canada’s Ethical Trustmark Program, which recognizes the foundation’s commitment to ethical fundraising and donor accountability. www.sjhcfoundation.org
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