Velocity Tackles Back Pain with Digital Innovation in Germany

More than ever, most of us have jobs that involve sitting at a desk for hours on end. The average desk worker in the U.S. is 36 years old and female. While some companies invest in workstation assessments, a lot of us are still working from home where we are less likely to have invested in the right-height desk or a chair with arms. And this is somewhat responsible for the 23% of adults globally who suffer from chronic back pain, according to the National Library of Medicine

Even though this is a wide-ranging disease that affects people of all ages, we know that younger people are experiencing back pain more than ever and are taking time off work because of it. Current therapies that are available include pain medication or seeing posture specialists, who often have long wait times to get an appointment.

Enter a new type of treatment: mobile applications to encourage greater movement and flexibility.

The Mustang Study is designed to test the eCovery Therapy app, designed by German company eCovery GmbH. It is a physiotherapy app designed to help people do exercises at home at a time that is convenient for them. Generally, the cost of apps like this are not yet covered by all German health services or insurance, making the clinical trial a cost effective way of accessing the app.

In the first part of the clinical trial, 80 patients enrolled in Germany and had to complete daily exercises and record their experiences using an e-diary. Velocity contributed roughly 50% of volunteers to the study. There were equal numbers of men and women who took part in the trial, which focused on predominantly younger people between the ages of 20 and 40 years old.

A headshot of Maria Lehretz, MDPart one was designed to determine the efficacy and safety of the app and submit preliminary data to the German health regulators as part of eCovery’s post market surveillance measures. Early results are positive. Thanks to the exercises, patients are becoming more flexible and active, which is leading to a reduction in back pain. 

Maria Lehretz, MD, who designed the protocol when she was Head of Clinical Research at eCovery before joining Velocity’s Leipzig site as its medical director, said, “It was always a dream of mine to design a clinical trial. The problem with acute back pain is that most of us suffer from it but don’t know the reasons why. We tend to put up with the pain not realizing there are treatments available to us.”

“We were overwhelmed with the number of people who wanted to take part in this study, which halved the recruitment time for this study to just one month. The compliance rate of people filling in their e-diaries and questionnaires has been very high. We attributed this to the younger demographic of participants who, by nature, are digitally native, the ease of use of the app itself and the training volunteers received from site staff on how to use it.”

“Having this level of high quality data is critical to persuading health regulators to accept this as a new treatment and cover costs of the app so more people can benefit from it,” Dr. Lehretz added.

A woman completing exercises in her living room as instructed by the app on her tablet device.

The cost of the app is almost 400 Euros for three months. More and more health insurance companies are starting to partner with eCovery to cover the costs of its app for patients. Data from clinical trials is crucial for these long-term partnerships, which is why eCovery puts a strong focus on post-market surveillance. 

Dr. Lehretz added, “We see this as a new way to treat a problem that is so prevalent among young adults and costs the economy millions of euros each year in reduced productivity because people are taking time off from work.”

“Not only does this give people the flexibility to do physio treatment at a time that suits them but it promotes a more active and healthy lifestyle. I’m looking forward to launching the next phase and helping even more people.”

In part two, the study will require nearly 270 people who suffer from acute or severe back pain, to take part. Recruitment begins towards the end of 2023 and into January 2024. If you would like to take part in the Mustang study at Velocity Leipzig, please email

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