Robotics for remote post-stroke rehabilitation

In Europe over 6 million people are living with the after-effects of a stroke (cerebrovascular accident: CVA); this figure is expected to increase 33% by 2035 [1]

Post-stroke rehabilitation has one very salient feature. If the patient sticks to the rehab closely and continually, the chances of recovery are very high. A large percentage of CVA patients suffer afterwards from upper- or lower-limb problems, with severely affected arms and hands or difficulty in walking anew. The usual rehab exercises are not greatly complicated but the rehab efficiency is hugely affected by two crucial factors. Firstly there is the cost of each rehab session, either directly or factoring in the transport there and back to the rehab center. Secondly, there is a dearth of objective indicators to help the therapist assess patient progress.

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Enter the H2020-funded EIT-Health program, which is now driving new initiatives of post-stroke rehab at home. This combines robotics platforms (such as a robotized arm for carrying out motor rehabilitation exercises) with systems that allow clinicians to personalize each patient’s exercise plan and gain objective and quantitative indicators and readings of the patient’s progress.

Inclusion of the therapist in the remote patient-interaction loop is crucial. All initiatives focusing solely on the robotics part fail for two simple reasons: firstly, they are incapable of involving patients in their recovery and, secondly and above all, motivating and encouraging them.

This combination of remote monitoring technology and healthcare robotics has really promising takeup possibilities. After all, quite apart from the benefit for the patient, these systems also slash costs for the rehab center, enabling a single clinic to monitor many different patients at once.

A prime example of technology of this type is the European SwitHome project, which uses the antari Home Care telemedicine platform to help post-stroke patients recover their mobility. SwitHome allows stroke recoverers to carry out their rehabilitation at home under specialist supervision.

SwitHome’s smart insoles mean that the patient’s self-rehab at home can be monitored remotely by the therapist. The advantages are manifold; patients find their rehab less onerous and costly; the rehab center’s costs are cut by 35% and continuous biofeedback is fed into the system in the interests of better healthcare.

To find out more about SwitHome and other EIT-Health-driven projects, drop into: https://www.eithealth.eu/innovation_projects

Author: Javier Téllez Chacón

[1] http://strokeeurope.eu/burden-of-stroke-report-launched-in-eu-parliament/

Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV
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