Unraveling dynamics of human physical activity patterns in chronic pain conditions
Chronic pain is a complex disabling experience that negatively affects the cognitive, affective and physical functions as well as behavior. Although the interaction between chronic pain and physical functioning is a well-accepted paradigm in clinical research, the understanding of how pain affects individuals' daily life behavior remains a challenging task. Here we develop a methodological framework allowing to objectively document disruptive pain related interferences on real-life physical activity. The results reveal that meaningful information is contained in the temporal dynamics of activity patterns and an analytical model based on the theory of bivariate point processes can be used to describe physical activity behavior. The model parameters capture the dynamic interdependence between periods and events and determine a 'signature' of activity pattern. The study is likely to contribute to the clinical understanding of complex pain/disease-related behaviors and establish a unified mathematical framework to quantify the complex dynamics of various human activities.