Wearable activity data can predict functional recovery after musculoskeletal injury: Feasibility of a machine learning approach

the AO Smart Digital Solutions Task Force(Andrew M Hanflik, Peter H Richter, Sureshan Sivananthan, Seth R Yarboro)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Delayed functional recovery after injury is associated with significant personal and socioeconomic burden. Identification of patients at risk for a prolonged recovery after a musculoskeletal injury is thus of high relevance. The aim of the current study was to show the feasibility of using a machine learning assisted model to predict functional recovery based on the pre- and immediate post injury patient activity as measured with wearable systems in trauma patients. Patients with a pre-existing wearable (smartphone and/or body-worn sensor), data availability of at least 7 days prior to their injury, and any musculoskeletal injury of the upper or lower extremity were included in this study. Patient age, sex, injured extremity, time off work and step count as activity data were recorded continuously both pre- and post-injury. Descriptive statistics were performed and a logistic regression machine learning model was used to predict the patient's functional recovery status after 6 weeks based on their pre- and post-injury activity characteristics. Overall 38 patients (7 upper extremity, 24 lower extremity, 5 pelvis, 2 combined) were included in this proof-of-concept study. The average follow-up with available wearable data was 85.4 days. Based on the activity data, a predictive model was constructed to determine the likelihood of having a recovery of at least 50 % of the pre-injury activity state by post injury week 6. Based on the individual activity by week 3 a predictive accuracy of over 80 % was achieved on an independent test set (F1=0,82; AUC=0,86; ACC=8,83). The employed model is feasible to assess the principal risk for a slower recovery based on readily available personal wearable activity data. The model has the potential to identify patients requiring additional aftercare attention early during the treatment course, thus optimizing return to the pre-injury status through focused interventions. Additional patient data is needed to adapt the model to more specifically focus on different fracture entities and patient groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111254
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Advanced analytics
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Bring your own device
  • Pre-injury activity
  • Wearable activity monitor


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