Kiio, a Madison-based tech company with a health engagement platform, is partnering with the Department of Defense to test and develop a new protocol for treating — and potentially avoiding — a painful condition called tendinopathy.
Tendinopathy is a term for a disease of the tendon, the tough connective tissue between bones and muscles.
Issues are usually seen near the joints, which often endure repetitive, damaging movements. Though overuse has been identified as related to tendinopathy, other factors, including obesity, may play a role.
“Chronic tendinopathy is one of the most common musculoskeletal diseases,” said John Wilson, a doctor at UW-Madison who will guide the testing of this new protocol. “There is currently no efficient, standardized, objective method to quantify tendon performance, and this is a significant limitation in our ability to assess treatment efficacy.”
To create a protocol for treatment and risk assessment of tendinopathy, Kiio worked with Patrick Grabowski of UW-La Crosse. Now, that protocol will be tested on 318 participants — some will be healthy, while some will be affected by tendon issues.
These people will be put through a battery of tests which will rely on Kiio’s force sensor technology and a clinical muscle strength assessment.
According to Mark Felcyn, vice president for sales and marketing at Kiio, tendon endurance will be tested along with tendon strength — looking at the total force they can produce by doing a certain exercise.
The end-game goal for the $1.3 million project is to capture enough data from these participants to come up with a predictive algorithm for tendinopathy. Data analysis will be done by a team led by Kathryn Roach at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
“The Kiio technology is able to quickly capture a tremendous amount of highly accurate data,” Roach said. “We will be analyzing this data to establish a normative database and generate a decision-making algorithm that can be utilized not only in treatment, but also in risk assessment and injury prevention.”
Felcyn says the algorithm could be used by the Department of Defense to improve treatments and preventative efforts for its military members, but also for citizens in physical therapy scenarios.
“Our goal is to provide a fast, cost-effective, portable protocol to inform treatment, determination of work-readiness, and prediction of injury for Service Members as well as the general population,” said Kiio CEO David Grandin (pictured here).
Once tested, this protocol for tendinopathy will do three important things, Felcyn says.
First, it will help caregivers make better initial treatment decisions regarding patients with tendon injuries. Second, it will make their risk assessments more accurate. And finally, it will allow physicians and caregivers to “get out ahead” of tendon injury, helping patients to avoid tendon injuries altogether.
“By putting ability into physicians hands to objectively measure tendon strength — to capture objective info, strength of tendon, muscle — they can use that info to make evidence-based treatment decisions,” Felcyn said, adding that will help with speed of recovery.
–By Alex Moe