Bringing precision to musculoskeletal health

By Zach Winn

A clinician investigating a muscle injury will usually start the exam with questions aboutthe patient’s medical history and how they think the injury occurred. The clinician might then place their hands on the injured area and ask the patient to move around. Often, the only quantitative data collected come from asking the patient to use a pain scale from 1 to 10.

Compare that to the routine for treating a fever or high blood pressure. A doctor or nurse can run a simple test and quantify the problem. After treatment begins, they can measure the patient’s progress and determine how far they are from a healthy baseline.

That’s the kind of precise, data-driven approach the startup Figur8 is bringing to musculoskeletal injuries. The company, founded by CEO Nan-Wei Gong SM ’09, PhD ’13, has created a sensor-based system that can track body movement and muscle activity to quantify the severity of injuries, help doctors create treatment plans, and measure improvement.

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