How your iPhone health app helps your chiropractor

If you own an iPhone you have probably noticed the little app with a white background and a heart? It is labeled “Health” and over the years it has updated and evolved to track and store all sorts of information relating to your health and wellbeing. Depending on what other apps you link to it this little piece of technology can keep track of your weight, BMI, blood pressure, pulse, your sleeping habits and your mensural cycle (if you have one). However, of more interest to your chiropractor, this app will also keep track of a lot of information that relates to your musculoskeletal health.

The health app on your iPhone also measures; number of steps, step length, step asymmetry, walking speed and double support time. The app itself has lovely little explanations for what these are but essentially this information gives an overall picture of how you move and how much you move.

The stats stored are interesting on a day to day basis – have you made your 10,000 steps? when should you expect your next period? But it’s the graphs that develop over time are really useful to healthcare professionals such as chiropractors as we are interested in overall, long term trends.

This information taken daily or over a week gives a snap shot in time. The same information gathered over months and years can give vital information about longer term musculoskeletal health trends. For example: a hip with osteoarthritis will have good and bad days/weeks/months, details that can be easily forgotten. However, using the health app, a chiropractor can look at the long term trend – is the walking asymmetry getting worse? is the stride length decreasing? What is the difference between the average daily activity this year compared to three years ago?

I’d like to encourage you to take a look at this handy little tool. Try to become familiar with what is normal for you. Also take a look at the longer trends – have things changed? can you explain why?

Even if you are free of symptoms, such as pain or discomfort, the graph of your stride asymmetry may show that you are not quite as asymptomatic as you think. Perhaps your double support time has increased and you’re not sure why? This information may help to inform an early diagnosis and improve prognosis as a result.

If you’d like to know more about setting up and personalising this little app there is a good article here giving instructions.

I apologise, as the author of this blog I am an iPhone user. I don’t know what data is available on android phones but it may be worth your while to investigate.

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