Chatting about knee pain


Chris Swinburne, APAM, reviews a chat bot designed to triage patients with knee injuries.


Publisher: nextPT

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There are now a number of chat bots available on the internet designed to help direct people with injuries to appropriate education and treatment. Physiobot was designed by an American physical therapist to help those with acute knee injuries. It can be accessed by any device with a web browser, appearing as a chat window on the website.

A series of questions will be asked, including red flag screening, mechanism of injury, aggravators, and location of pain/tenderness. This allows the program to provide a best-guess at the diagnosis. In my testing, it seemed quite good at figuring out local knee injuries but failed to detect lumbogenic knee pain or consider paediatric conditions.

If there are red flags, users may be recommended to present to hospital or see a general practitioner. Otherwise, users are provided with education on their condition, prognosis, management advice, and a list of initial rehab exercises. These can all be emailed to users for later reference. Users are also offered a free, brief telehealth consult with one of their (US-based) physical therapists.

Like many online services, Physiobot can be considered a work in progress. The developers state that they plan to eventually grow the program to the point where it can triage musculoskeletal conditions throughout the body. Physiobot may be a useful tool for those with knee injuries who are not sure what to do about it, but in its current state, it would have limited use once a client presents to a physiotherapist.


  • can be used by anyone with internet browsing ability
  • provides good initial management advice for local knee problems in adults
  • recommends seeing a healthcare professional where appropriate.


  • currently does not detect pain referred to the knee from elsewhere
  • currently does not consider paediatric conditions.

Note: the views expressed by the reviewer are not necessarily those of the APA.

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