For most people, devices like Fitbit and Jawbone are just expensive toys. I see a lot of people dashing around with a devices on their wrists. Many of them are working on getting their 10,000 steps for the day. While it is nice to see people being active, it does not seem likely that anyone is going to dramatically improve his or her fitness due to a wristband. If anything, these devices probably give people a false sense of what they have accomplished each day. This leads people to think they are entitled to more calories and the net result is weight gain, not loss. That said, it could be that these activity trackers could do some actual good. The US Department of Veteran Affairs is said to be undertaking a study of people with back pain. Starting in February, 2016, the VA will monitor the movement of back pain sufferers. They will compare that data with what the veterans say about their pain and activity levels. If this works, the VA will be able to provide better and more accurate treatment to those back pain sufferers. We are at the start of the so-called Information Age. The more data we generate, in theory, the better we can address such problems as chronic back pain. It will bear watching to see what this study finds. I suspect one result will be to confirm that a lot of back pain is due to deconditioning as patients do ever less in response to pain. If so, doctors may end up prescribing trips to the YMCA rather than to the operating room.