JTECH Equipment in Research and Custom Software

JTECH Medical's devices and software make objective functional data collection easy for any discipline. From research to professional sports medicine to clinical trials, JTECH Medical's products are powerful tools for objective functional data collection and reporting.

We had the opportunity to speak with several customers who use our products for exciting research projects and integration with custom software. Below is a brief overview of their projects, software, and thoughts on how JTECH has become a part of achieving their goals.

Interview with Kim Dyer, MS, RN, CCRC at Truman Medical Center, Kansas City, MO

There are often multiple approaches for surgical intervention for a variety of injuries, without consensus among surgeons as to which is the best solution, or under which circumstances one may be preferred. Kim Dyer and Dr. Akin Cil, researchers at Truman Medical Center, are investigating AC joint reconstruction to determine the best method.

In the retrospective study, Dyer and Cil evaluate patients who have had two different approaches to surgical repair of the AC joint: anatomic reconstruction or the use of a hook plate. Looking at the patient's range of motion and muscle strength, the study aims to determine the better treatment option. Patients are all evaluated using a questionnaire which includes a constant score, determined by their functional abilities. The study has incorporated JTECH Medical's muscle tester to collect objective results.

"Using the muscle tester, we are able to measure the patient's abilities in pounds," says Dyer. "This objective data is used to calculate a constant score by which we compare results. Subjective evaluations by experts are valuable and important, but when it comes to research, objective data is paramount."

Dyer believes that objective data would also prove helpful in the preliminary stages of research projects. The Institutional Review Board (IRB), for example, may find this type of data holds more weight, and its use in a study may influence decisions.

The research project at Truman Medical Center smoothly incorporated JTECH Medical's software and devices. As a research project, however, Dyer did say they had to take some steps in the implementation.

"Because we store patient data, we have a secure, dedicated laptop," says Dyer. "But the software also allows us to avoid identifiers, marking simply Case Study 1 or Patient 1, 2, 3, etc. Confidentiality is key and the software has worked just fine for us on that front."

This research project is still in the early stages, but Dyer is confident that objective data will play a major role, and they hope to incorporate JTECH's devices into future case studies and larger research projects.

Interview with Mindi Feilmeier, DPM, FACFAS at the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, Des Moines University

A tight Achilles tendon, known as equinus, results in limited ankle joint dorsiflexion and is linked with numerous foot issues, including flat feet, bunions, and heel pain. Dr. Mindi Feilmeier is researching the efficacy and long-term outcomes of a surgical intervention that lengthens the gastrocnemius-soleus complex in order to increase ankle joint dorsiflexion, thereby alleviating these issues, while also returning patients to full strength and function. The success of this surgical intervention remains largely anecdotal, which Dr. Feilmeier is aiming to correct.

"There are only two studies that show that this surgery returns patients to full strength and function, but they do not address the surgery itself," says Dr. Feilmeier. "We need to be able to show objectively that we're doing what we say we're doing. And when we show the procedure is happening, we then need to show that we are receiving consistently strong results: increasing the patient's ankle range of motion to at least 10 degrees past 90, with the patient still able to recover muscle strength."

The study takes note of the patient's range of motion pre- and post-op using JTECH Medical's Goniometer in order to objectively document that the Achilles tendon has been lengthened. Then, muscle strength and functional testing is performed to prove that the surgery will allow patients to return to full activity.

Reliable and accurate objective data are crucial to the research process as it allows researchers to prove their findings. Dr. Feilmeier hopes to follow this research project with another goal of standardizing how ankle dorsiflexion is measured.

"Currently, there is no standard way to measure ankle dorsiflexion," says Feilmeier. "Our students will read or be taught one method one day, and another the next. The problem is that a lot of these approaches are erroneously measuring ankle dorsiflexion by including foot flexion in the measurements. Objectively showing which measurement method correctly measures ankle dorsiflexion would settle the confusion, and provide patients with more accurate diagnoses and better care."

The software has particularly aided Dr. Feilmeier and her student researchers as it allows them to save each exam, and return to it at a later point, allowing for review and reproducibility without having to take the time to write down all the results from a manual goniometer. The ability to designate set points has also allowed for easy integration into the study.

"I like that I'm able to change the set points," says Dr. Feilmeier. "For ankle measurements, 90 degrees is my zero. It's great to be able to adjust the set point in the software to match this, allowing us to continue using the same language throughout our research as we do in the clinical setting."

Interview with Dr. Alastair Cozens

In addition to research applications, JTECH Medical's software and devices are being incorporated into other companies' and clinics' existing or custom software programs. Dr. Alastair Cozens with Skene Software Ltd. in Scotland have recently integrated IRIS into their own software program, SLICK Clinic, in order to interface with JTECH Medical's instruments and electronically collect objective data.

"SLICK Clinic is an electronic rehabilitation record that we are developing to help doctors and allied health professionals in their work with patients who are recovering from neurological conditions, such as stroke," says Cozens. "It is also able to host treatment devices, such as exercise robots, as plugin modules which can directly access the clinical information."

SLICK Clinic is able to communicate with IRIS, allowing the software to receive and record objective data from the Tracker Freedom Goniometer, which Cozens says, "will increase the efficiency with which clinicians can conduct patient assessments."

The two programs integrated smoothly, though an issue did arise due to a specific test computer. “This was sorted with some excellent technical support from Jeremy Wright [a software developer at JTECH]," says Cozen.

Muscle Strength    Range of Motion    Tracker Freedom Goniometer    Tracker Version 5 Software    IRIS Software

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