For some military patients, wearable fitness trackers could be the key to a quicker recovery, according to Col. Deydre Teyhen, an official with from the Defense Health Headquarter's Office of the Surgeon General.
Wearable trackers -- potentially similar to FitBits or Gear Fits -- could help patients with musculoskeletal conditions gauge how much physical activity they can handle without exacerbating their injuries, Teyhen told an audience at a conference hosted by tech association, AFCEA.
For instance, some patients begin to feel better before their soft tissue heals fully, and start walking around more, which could inhibit their recovery process, she explained. An effective system might send that patient a notification on their fitness tracker to say, "'You've done great, at 1,000 to 2,000 steps a day,' and it gives you a warning ... 'You might actually be doing too much and you might cause a setback.'"
She added, "If you give them that warning in real time, then they can change their behaviors."
When deciding which tracking devices a military system should issue to soldiers, Teyhen said, "the question becomes, is it a one size fits all solution?"
"If we had device-agnostic software, that would allow us to then use the device they already own," she said.
But so far, tech companies are more focused on developing hardware than software that works on any wearable device, Teyhen said.
"Right now, the technology exists ... but there needs to be an integrated software solution that doesn't have to be driven by one set of hardware solutions."
Teyhen urged industry to develop tracking software that can operate on any wearable device, because "everyone has their favorite."