A recent study found that the mobile health app Kaia was extremely effective in treating patient’s lower back pain. The app uses a multidisciplinary approach to alleviate chronic pain, guiding patients through physical therapy, relaxation, and medical education exercises that offer a convenient and effective means of doing so. The researchers’ findings were published in an NPJ Digital Medicine open article on May 3.
In their work, the researchers included 100 adults who had been experiencing lower back pain with no known cause. These participants either used the Kaia app for 3 months or were assigned to attend six traditional physiotherapy sessions over a 6-week period and receive online education regarding lower back pain. At a 12-week follow-up, the researchers found that those who had used the Kaia app reported significantly lower back pain scores than those who had received traditional treatment.
Kaia Health was created in 2016 by CEO Konstantin Mehl and has been used to provide mobile health treatments for conditions ranging from back pain to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mehl started his first business at the age of 22 and is an entrepreneur with education in both chemistry and finance. Another one of his startups is the food delivery company Foodora, which has expanded to have over 500 employees in 15 different countries. The company went public in 2015 under the name of Delivery Hero.
Mehl decided to work with mobile health after suffering from lower back pain in his 20s. This first hand experience with chronic non-specific pain enlightened him to the limitations and high cost of treatments, and he saw mobile health as an opportunity to revolutionize therapy.
The company also works with machine learning and AI through the app, aiming to work with medical experts to create clinically-supported alternative to painkillers via the smartphone. Earlier this year, Kaia Health successfully brought in $10M in a Series A round led by Balderton Capital.
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“Over the last 12 months, we’ve demonstrated a universal, unmet need for affordable and accessible digital therapy products, such as our world’s first computer vision-powered back pain app,” said Mehl. “These improve treatment paths for patients and reduce costs for payers in healthcare around the globe. Balderton’s investment will support the next stage of our journey, as we expand across the US, undertake further clinical studies and cement our position as a global leader in the digital healthcare market.”
In addition to providing a convenient and effective means of treating back pain, Kaia and other mobile health solutions also offer an alternative to pharmaceutical intervention. With over 130 US citizens dying daily due to opioid overdose, physicians are looking for alternatives to narcotic interventions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated the economic burden of prescription opioid abuse to be $78.5B a year in the US alone, accounting for healthcare, treatment, and criminal justice costs. With this recent research solidifying the efficacy of the app, Kaia presents as an effective alternative to prescribing painkillers to those with lower back pain.