Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Online tool aids clinicians' efforts to treat injured workers

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
A research team has created a tablet- and mobile-ready tool that predicts rehabilitation treatments for injured workers.

University of Alberta researchers have developed a new web-based tool to aid health professionals in determining the right treatment course for injured workers, helping them feel better and get back to work earlier.

Researchers used a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning to analyze injury and treatment records from Alberta's workers' compensation database to create a tool that recommends an appropriate course of rehabilitation. During early testing, the support tool actually outperformed clinicians.

"The goal of this tool, and all our rehabilitation strategies today, is to be able to help these people feel healthy again, participate in productive work and reintegrate into their jobs as quick as possible," said Doug Gross, an associate professor of physical therapy in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Gross' research is affiliated with WCB-Alberta Millard Health, a provider of occupational rehabilitation and disability management services. Much of his work focuses on finding new ways to ensure workers are physically on the right path to recovery -- healing that also helps their emotional and financial well-being and the economy, he said.

"There are huge costs economically to the workers' compensation system, so we're constantly looking to improve health-care strategies to help these workers transition back to the workplace."

Computer algorithm at core of online tool

Gross teamed up with Osmar Zaďane, a professor of computing science in the Faculty of Science, to develop a computer algorithm that predicts a course of rehabilitation.

To do this, Zaďane's team relied on information from a provincial database of 8,611 workers who, after undergoing initial treatments, were referred for assessments to determine whether they were ready to return to work. The database contained details about injury types, rehabilitation methods, time between injury and rehabilitation, pain measures and overall outcomes, along with personal information such as age, sex, marital status, education and job status.

"For me, it was an obvious example of the type of approach we can do through machine learning," said Zaďane.

Every treatment recommended by the support tool was arrived at through a set of rules created using this historical evidence. "You can trust the tool's recommendations because you know how it made that decision and why."

The tool proved about 85 per cent accurate in recommending the right treatment -- a success rate that was more reliable than assessments done by physical therapists, occupational therapists and exercise therapists. When patients are referred for treatments that don't result in a return to work, the machine considers it a mistake, Zaďane explained.

Currently, the tool is only being used to train students. Far more testing is required before it makes it into the hands of health professionals, with potential applications to train new staff and use in remote areas. But even then the goal isn't to replace clinicians, Gross said.

"This is about the clinicians making decisions and how we can help augment those decisions," he said. "We all make mistakes and do the best we can. We have different influences on our decisions and biases, and if there are tools out there that can help these health-care providers make better decisions, let's do it."

A study detailing their findings was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. The original article was written by Bryan Alary. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Online tool aids clinicians' efforts to treat injured workers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211131953.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2013, December 11). Online tool aids clinicians' efforts to treat injured workers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211131953.htm
University of Alberta. "Online tool aids clinicians' efforts to treat injured workers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211131953.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins