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        3 min read

        [New Study] HealthJoy's Brain-Based Approach to Chronic Pain Results in Improvements Far Exceeding Traditional Methods

        [New Study] HealthJoy's Brain-Based Approach to Chronic Pain Results in Improvements Far Exceeding Traditional Methods

        After years of providing life-changing results to HealthJoy clients, our MSK Therapy team sought out an independent analysis to validate the true member outcomes and impact. The results showed that HealthJoy's unique approach to exercise therapy — targeting the connection between the brain and muscles — produces pain reduction outcomes that far exceed industry standards.

        The analysis, produced by Corey Rovzar, PhD, DPT, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, sought to quantify the efficacy of HealthJoy's digital MSK Therapy program in addressing chronic low back pain (LBP) over eight weeks of intervention. The primary outcome measure analyzed was the change in participants' pain scores. The secondary aim was to evaluate changes in a variety of issues including anxiety and depression, surgery likelihood, work productivity, and satisfaction.

        Low Back Pain: A Major Global Health Issue

        LBP is the leading cause of global disability, affecting an astonishing 80% of individuals at some point in their lives. According to the World Health Organization, LBP affects 619 million people globally and "it's estimated that the number of cases will increase to 843 million cases by 2050."

        A closer look at LBP

        • The second most common cause for an individual to seek a visit with a physician
        • The third leading diagnosis resulting in surgical intervention
        • Medical interventions for LBP account for $87.6 billion in US spending, more than any other musculoskeletal (MSK) injury.
        • 90% of episodes are classified as non-specific — a result that shows how difficult it is to identify the underlying causes of LBP

        LBP Treatment Approaches

        Current guidelines for management of LBP are multi-faceted, including a combination of exercise, rehabilitation, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This conservative approach is typically used first since it produces similar improvements in pain and disability when compared to surgery. The upside is that this approach comes at a significantly lower cost than surgery and with far less risk to the patient.

        Although this approach has demonstrated effectiveness, rehabilitation programs delivered in a clinical environment are costly, don't include long-term monitoring, and require high patient engagement to be effective.

        Thankfully, digital health interventions — like HealthJoy Virtual MSK Therapy — offer a potential solution to increase engagement by conveniently connecting with people on their mobile devices.


        The HealthJoy Approach to Addressing Chronic Pain

        HealthJoy's Virtual MSK Therapy program is an 8-12 week program that you can conveniently access from your smartphone, making world-class coaching accessible no matter where you're located. The program is designed to improve pain and function in individuals suffering from chronic pain. While the program addresses all parts of the body, this analysis focused on a population with chronic LBP. That is because LBP is notoriously difficult to solve and the most prevalent back or joint pain condition.

        The program consists of education, self-care activities, newsletters, progressive exercises, symptom tracking, and individual health coaching. Members can easily access all of this from the HealthJoy app.

        One of the main ways the HealthJoy approach differentiates itself from traditional exercise approaches is that it first focuses on enhancing the neural drive to major muscle groups. This improves the efficiency of "global body movement" as well as increasing interhemispheric motor coordination. This approach is supported by evidence showing a cross-education effect — where exercising one limb can improve muscle strength in the opposite limb.


        Study Design

        This was an observational study of individuals with chronic low back pain who underwent the 8-12 week digital MSK program consisting of education, exercise, and health coaching.

        Participants who achieved greater than 80% improvement in pain were transitioned to a maintenance program after eight weeks. Those who did not reach that mark were given four weeks of additional exercises.

        This study ended after eight weeks since a majority of participants (80%) exited the program after eight weeks due to overall improvements in pain and function.


        Study Results


        Effects on Pain: Greater Improvement, Delivered Faster

        Whereas the gold standard for full courses of treatment for chronic LBP range in improvements from 29-53%, HealthJoy participants reported a median pain reduction of 60% after just four weeks.

        After eight weeks of HealthJoy's program, participants reported a median 80% improvement. That impressive self-reported improvement was attributed most likely to the novel approach that we take, targeting the connection between the brain and muscle coordination. Since the first four weeks are predominantly focused on this aspect of muscle activation, this also explains the relative speed to reaching a 60% improvement.

        "The median self-reported improvement in pain by four weeks was 60%, suggesting that HealthJoy users are achieving faster improvements in pain than is typical for digital care programs. One possible explanation for this rapid, early progress is the novel approach in targeting the connection between the brain and muscle coordination. While most physical therapy and digital care programming includes conditioning, the first four weeks of the HealthJoy program focus on this unique aspect of muscle activation." — Corey Rovzar, PhD, DPT, postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University

        Pain Improvement by Stage:

        • By 4 weeks: 60%
        • By 8 weeks: 80%

        Additionally, HealthJoy participants reported significantly better outcomes than industry competitors and required significantly less time to reach these results. For example, HealthJoy members reported nearly 20% greater self-reported pain improvement compared to other digital care programs. Industry averages for pain improvement are usually around 60% over a 12-week course. HealthJoy's reported outcomes at eight weeks demonstrated more substantial results, with a median improvement of 80%.

        Other Key Stats

        • 59% average disability reduction
        • 80% median improvement in reported function
        • 57% average reduction in depression after eight weeks
        • 60% increase in work productivity after eight weeks
        • 96% likelihood of recommending the program (NPS of 88)


        Modernizing Your Approach to Chronic Pain

        As you can see from the findings above, HealthJoy's modernized approach to chronic pain not only reduces claims spend but also delivers serious whole-person results — ranging from reduction in mental health issues to increased productivity at work.

        Learn more about HealthJoy's innovative approach to MSK Therapy today. The results could be a game-changer for your bottom line and a life-changer for your employees struggling with chronic pain.

         Interested in learning more? Click here to view the full study.

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