Strengthening your back the simple way – at home with an app

Rückentraining zu Hause: Einfach und effektiv per App

According to studies, around a quarter of the Swiss population receives medical treatment for back pain. The cause is often one-sided posture, lack of exercise or excess weight. Kaia's digital back training provides you with an easy way to help combat or prevent back pain from the comfort of your own home.

Enabling you to strengthen your back with personal exercises anytime, anywhere – this is what Kaia's back training in digital form is designed to achieve. What’s the idea behind digital back training and what differentiates this app from others? This is what we asked Niklas Reinhardt, Key Account Manager at Kaia.

What gave Kaia Health Software GmbH the idea to programme a "pocket physiotherapist”?

The idea for this digital form of back training arose from a personal tale of woe: our company founder, Konstantin Mehl, suffered for many years from chronic back problems and would have had to undergo surgery on his spine. In the US he then discovered the multimodal therapy on which the app is based and became pain-free within a few weeks. He was convinced that this approach would also help many other patients and made it his mission to provide the therapy to others in a simple way with an app.

Kaia was founded in March 2016 and has been available in the App Store and Google Play Store since November 2016.

What were the biggest challenges in developing the app?

The biggest technical achievement, and therefore challenge, was the design of the exercise coach. Using artificial intelligence, the app analyses a user’s moves and then provides real-time feedback on whether the exercise was performed correctly – in a similar way to a personal trainer.

All that is required is for the phone or tablet to be stood or leant against a wall at a distance of around two metres. The front camera uses video recognition to identify body points such as the head or joints and analyses the user’s performance in real time. If the patient doesn’t perform the exercise correctly – if their arms are not parallel to the floor, for example – the app uses voice instructions to point this out. The exercise coach can thus prevent incorrect moves at an early stage.

With which disciplines, i.e. specialists were the exercises developed? / Who compiled the exercises?

The concept of digital back training was developed in combination with leading pain physicians, physiotherapists and psychologists from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Pain Therapy at the Klinikum rechts der Isar and the Technical University of Munich.

Kaia is also a partner in the Rise-Up Project, a research project that is testing the influence of digital guideline-based therapies for back pain in a study.

How have physiotherapists and doctors reacted to the app?

In general, the response has been very positive. Doctors as well as physiotherapists see that there are deficits in conventional treatments and that the app can enable more patients to benefit from multimodal pain therapy.  

Can the app replace a real physiotherapist?

The app does not make a diagnosis and therefore cannot replace the doctor's responsibility of clarifying specific causes of pain. However, scientific studies have proven the pain-relieving effect of digital, full-scale therapy.

Our exercises and content illustrate how pain therapists, doctors and psychologists would treat this pain at its core. A coach is also available on the app via a chat function to help out when motivation is low, give tips and answer questions.

Who are the people behind these coaches?

They are psychologically trained coaches supported by a team of doctors, physiotherapists, sports scientists and psychologists.

How does the Kaia app differ from other back training apps?

With the Kaia app, patients can now for the first time receive holistic digital treatment for back pain. This is based on the scientifically proven multimodal pain treatment, a training programme that follows the recommendations of the German National Health Care Guidelines. Kaia is also CE certified as a medical product.

The app's further development

Since the Kaia principle can be transferred to other diseases, further developments are planned. An app already exists for COPD based on multimodal pulmonary rehabilitation therapy, and an app for arthrosis is soon to be released.

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