Apple Watch and NeuroCoach app to help improve spinal surgical care

apple health metrics on iPhone and watch

There have been plenty of good outcomes when Apple and Stanford collaborated in the past. In particular, the Stanford heart study proved that wearable technology can identify heart rate irregularities.

The study results from this groundbreaking research were published in the New England journal of medicine in Nov 2019.

And in late 2020, the duo teamed up again!

This time around, the study’s objective is to find out how Apple Watch helps improve care for spinal surgery patients. The study is being collaborated with Stryker Nordic, a medical device manufacturer based out of Sweden.

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Stryker delivers results through a wide range of capabilities, including joint replacements, trauma, spine, and micro implant systems, orthobiologics, powered surgical instruments, surgical navigation systems, endoscopic products, patient handling, and emergency medical equipment.

One of the primary goals of spine surgery is to reduce pain and increase mobility to improve patients’ quality of life.

Today there is no established method for surgeons to objectively track their patients’ mobilization postoperatively in an easy way.

Apple Watch and NeuroCoach App

This Apple Stanford study is the first prospective trial utilizing the Apple Watch to objectively track patients before and after elective spine surgery.

The principle thinking as per the study is that providing the ability of patients to track their own activity using the NeuroCoach app and discuss with their surgeon objective mobilization goals will not only help patients achieve empowerment in their own care but also improve their overall satisfaction and self-reported outcomes after spine surgery.

The study uses the Apple Watch and app to record patients’ mobility information such as step count, heart rate, stairs climbed, and distance traveled. The app also asks patients to complete various questionnaires.

This study, Improving Spine Surgical Care With Real-Time Objective Patient Tracking Using the Apple Watch, was announced in May of 2020 and is currently recruiting 200 subjects for its clinical trial.

The Apple Watch and the newly developed associated app, Nuerocoach will be helpful in treating patients with spine degeneration, spinal stenosis, and spine fusion-related surgeries.

The Apple Watch and App are used for this study to record patient’s mobility information (e.g., step counts, heart rate, stairs climbed, distance traveled) as well as provide an additional platform for patients to complete questionnaires.

This study started on September 1, 2020, and expects to complete by the end of May 2023. Stanford University’s Hospital and Santaford’s Department of Neurosurgery co-conduct the study with Apple.

There is clearly a lot of momentum in the area of personalized disease management as companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, and Google compete to help provide good patient care outcomes.

The major advantage of Apple going into this study is that the company is currently the undisputed leader in the global smartwatch market share.


  1. Stanford is really moving the needle when it comes to testing out the health possibilities of wearables like the Apple Watch. Pretty cool.


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