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Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2018 Nov 23. pii: S2468-7812(18)30159-0. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2018.11.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Artificial intelligence and machine learning | applications in musculoskeletal physiotherapy.

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Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, Guy's Hospital, Great Maze Pond, SE1 9RT, London, UK. Electronic address:



Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field of mathematical engineering which has potential to enhance healthcare through new care delivery strategies, informed decision making and facilitation of patient engagement. Machine learning (ML) is a form of narrow artificial intelligence which can be used to automate decision making and make predictions based upon patient data.


This review outlines key applications of supervised and unsupervised machine learning in musculoskeletal medicine; such as diagnostic imaging, patient measurement data, and clinical decision support. The current literature base is examined to identify areas where ML performs equal to or more accurately than human levels.


Potential is apparent for intelligent machines to enhance various areas of physiotherapy practice through automization of tasks which involve data analysis, classification and prediction. Changes to service provision through applications of ML, should encourage physiotherapists to increase their awareness of and experiences with emerging technologies. Data literacy should be a component of professional development plans to assist physiotherapists in the application of ML and the preparation of information technology systems to use these techniques.


Artificial intelligence; Low back pain; Machine learning; Physiotherapy

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