Rubbing and massaging sore muscles is surely one of the oldest forms of physical therapy known to humankind. Today, professional athletes and others turn to certified therapists to help them as they recover from sprains, pulls or other painful mishaps.
Yet there is limited scientific research available to guide professionals as they work to help their patients recover.
That’s where Health Smart Technologies comes into the picture.
Terry Loghmani, an associate professor of physical therapy at Indiana University and a certified manual therapist, has years of experience in the manual treatment of muscle and connective tissue pain and injuries and is a co-founder of Health Smart Technologies. It is her goal to bring manual therapy into the modern age by electronically quantifying the pressure, force, direction and duration of manual therapy as it is being applied by therapists using hand-held, soft tissue manipulation tools.
Instrument-assisted soft tissue manipulation (IASTM) uses hand-held tools to apply direct treatment to a patient’s soft tissues. A therapy method known as the Graston Technique® introduced modern day IASTM nearly 30 years ago and is still used by tens of thousands of therapists around world to treat soft tissue injuries.
Health Smart Technologies has gone further by attaching electronic sensors to IASTM treatment blades. The sensors measure the details of a therapist’s manipulations of the soft tissue and make the data visible on a computer screen in real time. Having this information will enable researchers to develop standardized treatments for specific injuries and conduct reproducible clinical trials to establish whether specific treatment methods are truly effective. The company’s ultimate vision is to make Quantifiable Soft Tissue Manipulation (QSTM™) a standard method for clinicians who use manual therapy on a daily basis.
“This is kind of the next technological step in manual therapy,” says Loghmani, who adds that Health Smart Technology devices can also assist in the training of new therapists.
“Mankind has been using sticks and stones and all kinds of things to manipulate soft tissue for centuries because we know it helps,” she says. “One thing we haven’t had, until now, is a way to quantify the soft tissue manipulation.”
Ventures has been a partner with Health Smart since 2016, developing the company’s ergonomic, hand-held devices. The partnership has produced two devices so far, with more planned, Loghmani says.
“They’ve been great collaborators,” she adds. “We’re hoping it will be a long-term partnership.”