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New App driven by artificial intelligence aims to benefit tens of thousands living with inflammatory arthritis

Tens of thousands of people living with axial SpA (AS) could benefit from the development of a pioneering artificial intelligence driven App that will help empower people to take control of their condition and support rheumatologists to diagnose faster.

Good Boost Wellbeing Limited have received funding from Innovate UK to support the project, and the App will be developed in partnership with National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) and Oxford Brookes University.

Currently 1 in 200 people in the UK live with axial SpA (AS), a painful and progressive form of inflammatory arthritis. People who live with the condition often experience chronic pain and fatigue. Without the right treatment, the condition can lead to irreversible spinal fusion and joint damage.

Axial SpA (AS) affects young people, with symptoms typically starting in late teens to mid-twenties. Diagnosis takes an average 8.5 years, but a faster diagnosis can help people avoid some of its worst outcomes and live well.

Once developed, the App will enable people to use their smart phone to monitor their posture and range of movement for signs of change. It will help people spot signs that their condition is deteriorating and help them know when they need to contact their healthcare team to get advice, discuss their treatment or ask for physiotherapy.

It will also speed up the process for diagnosis by enabling people with suspected axial SpA (AS) to provide their rheumatologist with essential information about their posture and range of movement. Once diagnosed, it will also enable rheumatologists to monitor people remotely.

As a first step, Good Boost are working with NASS to find people living with axial SpA (AS) to help train the system to recognise a wide range of variations of the condition. People who take part will be asked to complete a series of different movements via a video captured on their phone.

The Centre for Movement, Occupational and Rehabilitation Sciences (MOReS), Oxford Brookes University will be responsible for the research component of the project to evaluate the App, which is underpinned by a current PhD research degree project. The end goals of the research are to show how accurate the App is at measuring movement and posture and to understand the experience of using the App from people with axial SpA (AS)

Ben Wilkins, CEO, Good Boost said:

“We are delighted to receive Innovate UK funding for this pioneering project. Once developed, the App will be as easy to use as the finger prick blood test for diabetes, transforming the lives of tens of thousands of people with axial SpA (AS). Ultimately, we hope it will lead to faster diagnosis times and empower people to manage their condition, enabling more people to avoid developing spinal fusion or suffering severe joint damage.”

Dr Dale Webb, CEO NASS, said:

“This is an incredibly innovative project and will be lifechanging for many people living with axial SpA (AS). I encourage anyone who is living with axial SpA (AS) to step forward and volunteer to take part. Your support will be invaluable to help other people with the condition in the future.”

Professor Helen Dawes, Director MOReS, said:

“It is really important that digital healthcare tools are carefully evaluated for their accuracy and usability involving patients who are affected by these conditions and clinicians, to ensure these systems can be trusted and meet the needs of the people using them. I am absolutely delighted that we’re working on this important project with Good Boost and NASS.”

People who are interested in taking part should email events@nass.co.uk

Notes for editors

  1. The App development is being led by Good Boost working in collaboration with National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) and Oxford Brookes.
  1. axial SpA (AS)

Axial Spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) is an inflammatory arthritis where the main symptom is back pain. Axial spondyloarthritis is an umbrella term and it includes:

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) – where changes to the sacroiliac joints or the spine can be seen on x-ray.
  • Non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis – where x-ray changes are not present but inflammation is visible on MRI or you have symptoms.

About Good Boost

Good Boost is a social enterprise that provides affordable and accessible therapeutic exercise programmes, through cutting-edge technology. Our rehabilitation programmes are designed to be beneficial and fun for people with a wide range of MSK conditions, including arthritis and back pain.  Good Boost’s mission is to better treat, manage and prevent MSK conditions through world-leading technology, transforming any place into a therapeutic space. We want everyone to love looking after their musculoskeletal health by moving more, having fun and feeling better.

About National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS)

NASS is the only charity in the UK dedicated to transforming axial SpA (AS) care in the UK. For over 40 years we’ve been providing specialist support, advice and the most up-to-date information.

We aim to empower everyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including ankylosing spondylitis (AS) to manage their treatment, stay in control of their lives and live well with the condition. We are driven to ensure that health professionals around the country deliver tailored and timely care to every patient, every time.

About Oxford Brookes

Oxford Brookes’ portfolio of research excellence builds on a distinctive disciplinary base, fosters interdisciplinary and collaborative working, and delivers transformational social, cultural and economic benefit for our communities both locally and globally.

The MOReS team carries out healthcare research that can impact, change and benefit the society we live in and our quality of life. The importance of its impact arising from high-quality research was recognised in the the most recent REF (research excellence framework) assessment, with 80% of studies rated as having ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading’ impact.