A system of connected devices to manage chronic pain
RELIEF helps individuals manage chronic back pain and improve quality of life through a series of connected devices—Kinesiology/EMG tape (speculative), Smart Watch and Pain Tracking App. These devices work together to:
monitor muscle tension
provide targeted exercise tips to prevent flare-ups
track pain reporting to customize pain management based on the individual’s behaviors and needs.
Systems Design, Conceptual Mapping, Wireframes, Visual Design
Sketch, Illustrator, Overflow, InVision
Mobile app & smart watch flows | SYSTEM mapPING
An integrated system of wearables and devices to track muscle tension, record pain intensity, and access exercise tips and physical therapy.
Relief Tape is a speculative design that is worn on painful areas of the body and tracks muscle tension via electromyography (EMG).
Dive deeper into your Dashboard to see how Relief Tape’s data connects with your pain reports throughout the day.
Make changes to your daily habits to reduce pain or reach out to your physical therapist for professional support.
Stretch and Exercise Tips
Get recommendations for stretches and exercises to ease pain and muscle tension.
Relief App learns about your pain levels, alerts you when muscle tension is high, and provides comprehensive data to help you manage your pain.
user interviews| experience maps | concept maps
Chronic pain is a health issue affecting millions of Americans
Chronic pain affects an individual’s overall quality of life and is the leading cause of job-related disability and productivity loss.
USER RESEARCH SNAPSHOT
David experiences chronic pain from previous sports injuries
David is a 32-year-old male with chronic lower back and shoulder pain. His condition is both genetic (his dad also suffers from chronic back pain) and a result of residual injuries from playing lacrosse in high school and college.
USER EXPERIENCE MAP
Throughout the day his experience of pain differs by hour and activity
David mainly relies on himself to manage his condition
INSIGHTS FROM USER RESEARCH
Pain is subjective and hard to measure
“Intense” pain for one individual could be classified as “mild” for another.
There is currently no reliable method of objectively quantifying an individual’s experience of pain. Doctors rely on the patient’s subjective report.
David needs to expand his support network for long-term care.
He will need to shift his mental framework from short-term fixes in order to stop his chronic pain from getting progressively worse.
Coping mechanisms tend to be reactive, rather than preventive.
David takes painkillers and exercises to maintain his pain at a manageable baseline level. He has not pursued other methods to reduce the pain or prevent it from worsening.
How might we help an individual manage their pain by raising their awareness to prevent and treat acute symptoms before they worsen?
Speculative design | Sketching | wireframes
To promote adoption, I wanted to design an experience that would easily integrate with David’s current habits. The mobile and smart watch app tracks data from Relief Tape and his physical activity then sends alerts and asks for feedback.
Relief Tape = EMG + Kinesiology tape
As a speculative design, I combined the technology from EMG with Kinesiology Tape as a new hybrid wearable that can measure muscle tension and provide pain relief in problem areas.
Muscle tension can be measured via electromyography (EMG) devices. When you experience painful muscle cramps, your muscles are contracting intensely, resulting in a higher EMG reading.
A Connected Network for Pain Management & Feedback
The connected network of Relief Tape + Relief App work together to:
Track how often you feel muscle tension and pain, your medicine intake, and when the muscle tension is most severe
Send alerts about your muscle tension and recommend tips to prevent pain from escalating
Ask for feedback on where you specifically feel the pain and what is the intensity of that pain
Notify your physical therapist with your aggregated pain data for follow-up professional care
More user testing is needed. In a future iteration, I would build a working prototype of Relief Tape using Arduino and EMG sensors to test with David and other users.
Feedback is the critical missing piece. My first iterations provided objective data reporting, but I needed to incorporate user feedback (e.g., self-reporting of pain intensity) to show a more holistic view of the individuals’s pain experience over time.