FitBit assisting Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with a VR based therapy for chronic low back pain

Cedar Sinai clinical VR and Fitbit study for lower back pain

16 million US adults or 8% of all adults suffer from chronic low back pain issues. Nearly 65 million Americans reported a recent episode of LBP (Lower back pain).

It is therefore not surprising that hospital research centers as well as health-tech companies are joining hands to explore ways to better manage LBP in patients.

cedars sinai fitbit and VR study for LBP

Cedars-Sinai Medical center, based out of Los Angeles and ranked in the top 10 preferred hospitals in the US has sponsored a new clinical trial/study with the objective of testing the effectiveness of Virtual Reality (VR) protocols for treating patients with chronic LBP.

Related reading:

Clinical Trial Objective

This study will test the effectiveness of an evidence-based virtual reality therapy program as a non-pharmacological supplement to managing patients with pain due to chronic lower back pain. 

The main idea here to use technology in order to assist with disease management. The study launched on June 1, 2020, and expects to complete by Dec 2023. It is enrolling 360 participants in the Los Angeles area.

The study randomizes outpatients to receive one of three virtual reality (VR) programs: skills-based VR, distraction VR, or sham VR. 

fitbit charge for lower back pain

Combination of VR headset and Fitbit Charge 3

All patients participating in the study will receive a VR headset and Fitbit Charge 3. 

The VR headset that will be used in this study is the Pico G2 4K headset. This is one of the newer lightweight VR headsets featuring a Snapdragon 835 processor. This is a stand-alone VR headset that comes with an orientation tracking controller. You do not need to connect to a PC or a smartphone to operate this headset.

Fitbit Charge 3 will also be provided to the study participants. The Fitbit unit will be used to keep track of biometric data such as the number of steps per day, active steps, and the total number of sleep interruptions.

The study follows patients for 90 days and monitors them for functional status, pain levels, use of pain medications (including opioids). Study managers ask all participants to consent/authorization to access their medical records from their treating facility.

Wearables are the new “it” for personal healthcare management!

It is becoming clear that as medical research and health tech companies start focussing on active disease management problems, the market for wearables such as FitBit and Apple Watch is expected to see more growth in the coming years.

Moving forward, we fully expect to see new and interesting health sensors embedded into the latest generation of these wearables.

Have you had a chance to experiment with a VR headset in the last few years? How was your experience? Please let us know using the comments below.

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


  1. Sounds really interesting! I wonder what kind of VR program they run in this trial? What are the participants actually doing in the VR world?


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