Michigan Knee Institute

TechCentury: Doctor monitors knee replacement patients through smartwatches

A Rochester Hills doctor is monitoring his knee replacement patients’ recovery and activity level using smartwatch technology.

Jeffrey DeClaire, M.D., founder of the Michigan Knee Institute, uses patients’ smartwatches to track progress made before and after knee replacement surgery. Using an app called MyMobility, participants in the study are required to do daily recovery exercises, record progress notes and report back via text to DeClaire and his staff.

With 250 of his knee replacement patients enrolled, Dr. DeClaire and his patients will avail themselves of the program’s artificial intelligence to help determine if education and exercise remotely guided by the watch and app are as good as or better than traditional education and outpatient physical therapy.

“As physicians we are obligated to seek out the most technologically advanced methods for helping our patients,” DeClaire said. “The watch uses AI to collect the patient’s activity data and shares it with the app on the patient’s smartphone. The app messaging feature allows patients to send photos, ask questions, and provide updates to me and my team, with such timely communication ensuring the absolute best care possible.”

In the past, DeClaire said,  he would typically see patients for a postoperative visit and then wouldn’t be in contact with them until their one-year follow-up. “With this technology, my staff and I communicate with some patients daily about their step count, gait speed, stand hours, flights of stairs and heart rate,” he said.

Denise Erhart, a retired nurse who lives in Petoskey, MI and underwent knee replacement surgery, said participating in the smartwatch study was ideal.

“Being a nurse, I appreciate research and loved the idea there would be a second set of eyes watching my progress,” she said. “Dr. DeClaire’s office sent me educational information, as well as exercises—which they tracked. I had the app on my phone and received prompts on my watch.  Using my smartwatch was a terrific way to remain connected to Dr. DeClaire and his staff. It also gave me the comfort of knowing that I was doing things right.”

DeClaire is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic knee surgeon who performs over 1,000 knee surgeries annually and offers arthroscopy; ligament reconstruction; meniscus transplantation; cartilage regeneration; outpatient, partial and total knee replacement; and robotic surgery. He has also assisted in the design of implants and a ligament-preserving knee.

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