Tracking Back Pain with FitBits | Caktus Group

The FitBack web application uses the FitBit to correlate back pain with exercise, sleep, and other variables.


Challenge

ORCAS needed an application that integrated information from Fitbit, a fitness monitoring device, with back pain information to help individuals understand what behaviors reduced pain.

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ORCAS, a healthcare technology company, contacted Caktus to turn a proof-of-concept Python application, FitBack, into reality. FitBack would use the popular Fitbit fitness monitoring device to chart information like steps taken, calories consumed, steps climbed, etc. against user-inputted information on back pain. ORCAS knew it would be challenging to integrate FitBack and pain information in a way that felt effortless and intuitive so that users could understand what behaviors helped to alleviate their pain.

Solution

Caktus created a custom Django application, upgraded the Fitbit Python API, and integrated data from the device with user-inputted back pain information.

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Our developers first customized the Django application—django-fitbit—building all of the designed client-facing and backend admin pages. A key new component was to create a secure user signup process that would first authenticate and then retrieve Fitbit user credentials and data and pass them to the FitBack interface. This was an essential step to ensure that each user was paired with the data they would enter throughout their trial use of FitBack.

Once a user could securely sign up for the service, our next step was to improve the Python library that interfaced with the Fitbit API so that all data a user recorded on their device could be retrieved and fed to custom FitBack views. We then wrote comprehensive user tests for both the Python fitbit and django-fitbit libraries.

Next, we needed to integrate the data we captured into the design of the site. The number of steps they took were then graphed versus the amount of back pain they were experiencing into a series of highchart.js-based charts. A user could then track this data via one-day, 7-day and 30-day views.

Results

FitBack is an easy-to-use application that helps users know what's helping or hurting their backs. New techniques developed also contributed to existing open source tools, including Django and Python knowledge bases.

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FitBack users now maintain a personalized account of what's helping their back—and what's hurting it—so they can make immediate changes and feel better. The in the moment delivery of tips, progress reports, and milestone alerts guide people towards safer behavior, hopefully enabling a return to normal physical activity. With ORCAS' approval, also, Caktus published both the Python library and the Django integration library to PyPI as the "fitbit" and "django-fitbit" packages and they are available for anyone to use.