Have you ever hurt your back, had a sports related injury, suffered a strain or sprain, broken a bone, or had surgery? If so, you have probably experienced some form of therapy delivered by clinicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Depending on your injury or condition, you may have started therapy in the hospital or in an outpatient clinic. Your therapy may have gone on for months and required frequent trips back and forth between your home and a physical therapy center. And let’s face it, the last thing you want to do when you’re already hurting is to haul yourself into a car or other transportation and go somewhere for therapy.
It’s no wonder then that as I travel the world I see so many technology solutions aimed at making physical therapy a better and easier experience. This is particularly true for solutions that include some sort of on-line, computer-based therapy that uses motion sensing technology such as Microsoft Kinect for Xbox or Windows PCs. In fact, I am aware of dozens of companies doing work in this space. Perhaps that’s not surprising considering that the US physical therapy market alone is valued at $29.4 Billion. Market research puts a value of $0.5 to $1.0 Billion annually for these new computer or gaming-based adjunct solutions for physical therapy and rehabilitation. The home-use market is expected to be an even larger opportunity.
One of the newer companies (2012) working in this space is an Israeli company called BioGaming. The company says its BioGaming platform is a cloud-based solution that lets physical therapists and trainers create personalized exercise programs that are automatically transformed into interactive, engaging games and instructions. BioGaming currently is piloting its technology at centers in the US and Israel.
Take particular note of the word “engaging”. You see, almost any rehab program requires the patient to engage in some kind of self-exercise during the course of treatment. But as BioGaming points out, physical exercise programs are notoriously tedious and boring. Therefore, most patients don’t comply with their assignments. That results in poor clinical outcomes and increased healthcare costs.
BioGaming creates fun, interactive therapy sessions that look and feel more like some of the best video games you’ve ever played. For patients, the BioGaming platform offers a variety of games from very basic and easy to exciting, graphics-rich, sophisticated challenges. The Kinect 3D sensor is able to monitor and analyze performance in real time so patients can receive feedback as they exercise and complete assignments. Therapists utilize a custom dashboard to create and monitor patient-specific programs while a back office database and reporting module generate qualitative and quantitative reports on patient compliance and status.
If one examines the so-called “triple aim” of the health reform movement (higher quality, improved access to care, and lower cost of care) it is easy to see how BioGaming and other companies with a focus on improving the patient experience in physical medicine and rehabilitation programs are contributing to all three. Game on!
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft