“It’s more important than ever to be active”

17 August 2020
A man and lady doing exercises at home by using the Good Boost app.

We chatted to osteopath Ben Wilkins, one of our MSK champions to find out more about the Good Boost social enterprise programme and how technology is enabling them to support more people with arthritis.

Here he tells us more about how exercise can make a real difference and how the Good Boost app is a priority in these uncertain times of COVID-19.

“Over the past five years we’ve moved from ‘analogue’ to ‘digital’ swapping our clipboard for waterproof tablet computers.”

After university, I set up a small community research project in Oxford to see if using public pools for arthritis exercise sessions could work. Back then it was all paper based and completely analogue.

Alongside this project I worked for a social enterprise designing and delivering community exercise programmes for older adults. These combined developed into what Good Boost is today.

When the research project was set up, our goals were to support people on waiting lists for surgery, in a local community setting to take part in aqua rehab exercises together.

From research, we knew these people were experiencing pain and would benefit from self-management programmes to help manage their condition.

Everyone is unique with individual needs and the programme focused on providing a bespoke set of exercises designed by qualified professionals which could be done in a group setting.

“We’re working non-stop to achieve more and support more people in more places."

We were initially using exercises cards for people. Then we were awarded some funding and we worked with an artificial intelligence (AI) company to build an algorithm, which included a detailed knowledge map of MSK conditions and relevant exercises.

The result is the programme can easily produce exercise recommendations based on individual needs at any pool on the planet.

It works like a 1:1 personal trainer, that will recommend exercises based on your needs and adapt those exercises based on feedback.

Technology is core to our mission, to create accessible and affordable community MSK services to support people’s health, happiness, and well-being.

Our technology ensures that we offer the same quality Good Boost sessions for everyone, everywhere.

“We want to make sure we continue supporting people living with arthritis during the pandemic.”

To achieve this, we’re being funded by Innovate UK to develop a home-exercise app powered by Good Boost’s AI.

To make sure we build something that’s fit for purpose, we’ve been running video-call focus groups with people living with musculoskeletal conditions who are connected with the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Arthritis Action and Versus Arthritis.

Understanding the problem and being led by people who’ll use our technology and co-designing it with them is at the foundation of everything at Good Boost.

We’ve re-trained our AI for land rather than aquatic exercises, so that every participant has an individually tailored exercise programme that adapts and evolves with feedback just like at our pools.

“I am so proud of what we’ve achieved so far and the difference it’s making to people’s lives.”

We’ve seen some amazing results from the trials. Overall, people have found that even a little bit of activity has made a big difference.

The key to success is making resources as accessible as possible, promoting what’s available and keeping it affordable.

It’s surpassed what I thought and it’s great to keep developing more effective treatments for people with arthritis.

It’s been invaluable to be a Versus Arthritis MSK champion. I’ve had the chance to work together with other clinical professionals to share learning and build my knowledge.

I feel lucky to have access to a team of MSK experts / critical friends which will ultimately help us improve Good Boost in the future.

We’re here whenever you need us.

If you’re feeling isolated from family and friends during these uncertain times, we’re here for you.