Patient mobility rehabilitation has traditionally been regarded as an art more than a science because we simply haven’t had the scientific data to provide bias to make concrete predictions on a patient’s recovery trajectory or to understand why a treatment works on one patient but not on another.
While we have had success borrowing scientific data from Western studies made since the 1980s, this did not help us with mobility issues specific to the Asia region. For example, while there was plenty of data around hip mobility, the most common joint degeneration in Asia is that of the knee, specifically knee osteoarthritis.
The Ability Data – an Asian Consortium
We needed a common database of case studies of patients across Asian demographics of all ages and genders for all upper and lower limb abilities, and a baseline set of data from healthy patients to use as a benchmark for what would be considered the normal range of mobility within a specific age and gender demographic.
With such a large volume of data, we would be able to study the change in parameters across time and, based on comparable case studies, map the recovery trajectory for individual patients working towards a known normal range of mobility based on their age, gender, weight, ethnicity and other useful data.
The problem was that, given the size of the Singapore population, we simply didn’t have the number of cases available. However, having a large volume of data was critical in order to be able to detect patterns and map recovery timeframes and plan effective data-driven rehabilitation programmes. So, we looked for assistance from our Asian counterparts and created a consortium, which currently comprises partners from China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan, with whom we could grow and share a common database. Research institutions in Australia and Switzerland have also expressed interest to join.
The Ability Data aims to create the world’s largest database of physical ability of people across age groups.
The Ability Database is a cloud-based platform and, with that comes the need to secure patient data to keep it safe and confidential. We adopt a federated data sharing model, where each lab owns and maintains its own data and is responsible for protecting it.
When data is requested to be shared from a member of the consortium, the requesting party receives only anonymised data, with no information supplied that would identify any individual patient.
First, we aimed to collect data in healthy people – 500 subjects aged 21-80 years, male and female, representing the cross-section of races in Singapore. In 2021, we have so far collected data from 370 subjects and, by the first quarter of 2022, we will have met the full 500 target. In the meantime, we have started to collect data on stroke and amputee patients. We are inputting this data into a pooled database along with data collected by our consortium partners. All partners share the IP, instrumentation and data related to The Ability Data.