Components, design and effectiveness of digital physical rehabilitation interventions for older people: A systematic review

J Telemed Telecare. 2022 Apr;28(3):162-176. doi: 10.1177/1357633X20927587. Epub 2020 Jun 9.


Background: With the rapid advancement in digital technologies, the use of digital health applications is increasing day by day. Although a large number of digital applications have been developed for rehabilitation of older people, there has been no review of the evidence for effectiveness of these interventions.

Methods: The aim of our study was to review the evidence of digital rehabilitation interventions on outcomes including pain, function and quality of life in older people. We focused on digital interventions that are designed to improve and restore physical functioning. We searched six electronic bibliographic databases and included randomised controlled trials. Cochrane risk of bias tool and Cochrane's Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach was used to evaluate the risk of bias and grade the evidence.

Results: Eight trials were included. The short-term effects of digital rehabilitation interventions on physical activity, quality of life, vertigo symptoms and falls are uncertain. Quality of trials was rated as very low to moderate evidence.

Conclusion: More research is needed to estimate effectiveness of these interventions.

Keywords: Older adults; digital rehabilitation; electronic health; mobile health; systematic review; telehealth.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Pain
  • Quality of Life*