“Artificial intelligence has the capabilities to put a physical therapist in everyone’s pocket.”

Adam Loiacono

What You’ll Learn in This article

  • How to leverage Artificial Intelligence within physical therapy assessments.
  • How the use of AI can enhance programming and athlete compliance.
  • Additional resources on AI and ethical considerations.


The fusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with physical therapy is a groundbreaking advancement in healthcare. AI’s ability to analyze, learn, and predict has transformed patient care, rehabilitation methods, and therapeutic outcomes. This article explores the multifaceted role of AI in physical therapy, focusing on enhanced assessments, improved exercise quality, and superior patient outcomes.

1: AI in Physical Therapy Assessments

Enhanced Diagnostic Accuracy

AI-driven tools use sophisticated algorithms to analyze patient data, significantly improving diagnostic precision. These tools can detect nuances in movement and physical function that might be overlooked in traditional assessments. For instance, AI can analyze gait patterns, posture, and muscle strength with remarkable accuracy. Utilizing the powers of AI can hopefully remove some of the struggles we face with inter- and intra- reliability as well as improve efficiency of testing protocols.

Personalized Treatment Plans

AI’s data-processing capability allows for the development of highly individualized treatment plans. By analyzing a patient’s unique orthopedic presentation or movement capabilities, AI can tailor rehabilitation programs to match their specific needs.

One example of this is the use of VueMotion – a video based tool that can analyze gait and running mechanics from two iPhones. The data will provide information such as stride length, step rate, velocity, and so much more. This type of information use to only be available on specialized treadmills in either shoe stores or research labs. The accessibility to this information from your iPhone drastically scales the ability to personalize trianing programs based on running performance.

Predictive Analytics

AI’s predictive power is a game-changer in identifying future health risks. By processing historical data and current health metrics, AI can foresee potential injuries or the progression of disorders. This proactive approach enables therapists to implement preventive strategies, mitigating risks and promoting better health outcomes. Medicine and cancer research has embraced the ideas of predictive analytics with the creation of on particular invention, IBM’s Watson.

This idea of predictive analysis will ALWAYS be the pie in the sky. The moment someone, or a particular company, can crack this code then they will launch the field forward (and make millions of dollars in the process.) The challenge I anticipate with the idea of predictive analytics is that humans are complex organisms who operate in chaotic environments. The complexity and the chaos – the exact environment that sports is – offers a wide array of challenges. Humans are often unpredictable, but hopefully the progressions of deep learning, large language models, and machine learning can progress us closer to the ultimate goal of predictive analytics in sports performance.

Companies & Apps to check out:

  • Kaia Health: This company offers an AI-powered digital therapeutics app that helps in assessing and treating chronic pain through physical therapy exercises. It uses AI for motion tracking and personalized exercise programs.
  • Reflexion Health: They have developed a virtual physical therapy platform called VERA, which uses AI and motion-capture technology to guide, monitor, and quantify patients’ physical therapy progress.

2: AI’s Impact on Exercise Regimens

Interactive and Accurate Exercise Execution

AI-enabled devices offer real-time feedback, ensuring exercises are performed correctly. This immediate correction prevents injuries and enhances the therapeutic value of each exercise.

Gamification and Patient Engagement

Gamifying physical therapy exercises via AI and AR technologies significantly boosts patient motivation. This interactive approach transforms routine exercises into engaging activities, increasing adherence and thus the efficacy of therapy programs.

Continuous Monitoring and Adaptation

AI systems constantly monitor a patient’s progress, allowing for dynamic adjustments to exercise routines. This ongoing adaptation ensures that exercises remain effective and aligned with the patient’s evolving therapeutic needs.

Companies & Apps to check out:

  • Freeletics: An AI-powered fitness app that customizes workout plans for users based on their fitness levels, goals, and feedback.
  • Trainiac: Trainiac uses AI to connect users with personal trainers and to create personalized workout plans based on individual goals and progress.

3: Enhancing Patient Outcomes with AI

AI provides continuous oversight of patient progress, offering therapists a comprehensive view of the efficacy of treatment plans. This consistent monitoring ensures that adjustments to care are timely and data-driven, leading to more successful outcomes.

AI is pivotal in the rise of tele-rehabilitation. Patients can perform exercises at home, monitored by AI systems, making therapy more accessible and convenient, especially for those with mobility challenges or in remote locations.

Companies & Apps to check out:

  • AdhereTech: They provide smart pill bottles using AI to improve medication adherence by sending reminders and tracking usage.
  • Wellframe: This platform uses AI to personalize patient care plans and improve compliance through their mobile app.

4: AI in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation

AI algorithms assess musculoskeletal conditions with high precision, providing detailed insights into joint mobility, muscle strength, and functional limitations.

Using AI, therapists can develop customized exercise programs targeting specific musculoskeletal issues, thus ensuring more effective rehabilitation.

AI tools track the outcomes of musculoskeletal rehabilitation, providing valuable data on patient progress and the effectiveness of various treatment modalities.

Companies & Apps to check out:

SWORD Health: SWORD Health focuses on digital physical therapy, leveraging AI to deliver musculoskeletal care. Their approach combines sensor-based technology with AI algorithms to monitor and guide users through physical therapy exercises accurately. This system allows for remote monitoring and adjustment of therapy programs, making it easier for patients to receive personalized, effective treatment for various musculoskeletal disorders.

KinoTek is a pioneering digital health company leveraging motion capture technology and AI to revolutionize musculoskeletal and movement assessment. Their platform offers detailed, 3D visualizations of body movement, enabling clinicians to diagnose and treat movement-related issues more effectively and helping patients understand and manage their conditions more intuitively.

5: Ethical Considerations

The implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in physical therapy raises several ethical considerations that must be thoughtfully addressed. Firstly, patient privacy and data security are paramount. AI systems often require vast amounts of personal health data to function optimally. Ensuring this data is collected, stored, and used in compliance with regulations like HIPAA, and with the patient’s consent, is crucial.

Bias and fairness in AI algorithms also demand attention. AI models can inadvertently perpetuate biases present in their training data, potentially leading to unequal care quality among different demographic groups. It’s essential to develop and train these models on diverse datasets to ensure equitable treatment for all patients.

There’s also the matter of transparency and explainability. Patients and therapists alike should understand how AI recommendations are made. This transparency is vital for trust and for clinicians to make informed decisions about integrating AI insights into treatment plans.

Furthermore, maintaining the therapist-patient relationship is critical. AI should augment, not replace, the personalized care and expertise that therapists provide. Balancing technological advancement with the irreplaceable human elements of empathy, ethical judgment, and interpersonal communication is key.

Lastly, there’s a responsibility to consider long-term impacts, such as job displacement concerns within the physical therapy profession, and to navigate these changes ethically and responsibly. Embracing AI in physical therapy offers immense potential but must be approached with a careful consideration of these ethical dimensions.


AI in physical therapy represents a transformative approach to rehabilitation. Its ability to enhance assessments, improve exercise quality, and elevate patient outcomes heralds a new era in patient care. As AI continues to evolve, its integration into physical therapy promises to deliver more personalized, effective, and accessible treatments.

References and Further Reading

For a deeper understanding of AI in physical therapy, readers are encouraged to explore the following resources:

  1. Alsobhi M, Khan F, Chevidikunnan MF, et al. Physical Therapists’ Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Artificial Intelligence Applications in Health Care and Rehabilitation: Cross-sectional Study. J Med Internet Res. 2022;24(10):e39565. doi:10.2196/39565. Available from: PMC9634519.
  2. Rowe M, Nicholls DA, Shaw J. How to Replace a Physiotherapist: Artificial Intelligence and the Redistribution of Expertise. Physiother Theory Pract. 2022;38(13):2275-2283. doi:10.1080/09593985.2021.1934924. Available from: PubMed.
  3. Alsobhi M, Sachdev HS, Chevidikunnan MF, et al. Facilitators and Barriers of Artificial Intelligence Applications in Rehabilitation: A Mixed-Method Approach. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(23):15919. doi:10.3390/ijerph192315919. Available from: PubMed.
  4. Tack C. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning | Applications in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2019;39:164-169. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2018.11.012. Available from: PubMed.
  5. Wiljer D, Hakim Z. Developing an Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Health Care Practice: Rewiring Health Care Professions for Better Care. J Med Imaging Radiat Sci. 2019;50(4 Suppl 2):S8-S14. doi:10.1016/j.jmir.2019.09.010. Available from: PubMed.

Exploring these resources will provide a thorough understanding of the current landscape and future potential of AI in physical therapy.

Adam Loiacono


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