Over the last several years I’ve been telling you about some exciting uses of technology that are making rehabilitation services more accessible to patients around the world. During my global travels to speak at industry conferences or meet with customers and partners, I frequently run into creative companies that have harnessed Microsoft Kinect sensor technology to develop innovative programs and services for patients. In almost every country I visit, I see evidence of this.
You might think this all started in the US, and indeed, there are companies here including Jintronix and Reflexion Health that have been using Kinect sensor technology in rehab centers and patients’ own homes for some time. However, the enthusiasm for using the Kinect sensor to develop innovative and more convenient physical medicine and rehabilitation services is quite mature in many other countries as well. One of those is in Spain where a company called NeuroAtHome has become a leader in the field. In fact, at this year’s HIMSS conference in Chicago, NeuroAtHome was one of five companies to receive the Microsoft Health Innovation Award. NeuroAtHome’s award was in the “open innovation” category for work they have done with Hospital La Pedrera in Denia, Spain.
NeuroAtHome focuses on both physical and cognitive rehabilitation. All of the company’s exercises have been designed by a multidisciplinary clinical team for patients suffering neurological injuries, neurodegenerative disorders, neuromuscular disorders, or loss of physical or cognitive abilities due to aging. Each exercise on their system can be fully personalized to meet the needs of each individual patient. Services can be provided in a traditional rehab setting, or in the patient’s own home. In either case, the program of more than 60 “gamified” exercises for physical or cognitive rehabilitation can be monitored and adjusted by professional staff to provide a comprehensive, convenient, and certainly more fun way for patients to get better. The Kinect sensor is able to accurately track small and large joints, range of motion, acceleration, velocity, force and much more. Besides using Kinect for Windows, some of the company’s exercises are done using a touch screen tablet.
At Hospital La Pedrera in Denia,175 patients were treated using the NeuroAtHome rehabilitation platform. Out of 176 patients who were asked if they wanted to use NeuroAtHome for their therapy only 1 patient declined. Overall, the patients who were treated completed a total of 1,525 hours of therapy. Therapy time on the NeuroAtHome system can be easily tracked and classified by clinical objective. 58% of the total number of hours focused in cognitive and language therapy, while the remaining 42% in balance, coordination and arm rehabilitation therapy. The average patient age was 56.5 years old. The youngest patient treated was 17 years old and the oldest was, 87 years old. 67% of patients were male and 33% were female. According to the company, NeuroAtHome allowed patients to receive, on average, 30% more physical therapy sessions and 15% more cognitive therapy sessions using the same available resources. This increased efficiency also resulted in improved patient outcomes. Patients who used NeuroAtHome were discharged, on average, 3 days earlier.
If you think about it, this new way of delivering rehab services, especially when provided in the patient’s home, not only makes a lot of sense, but it is certainly far more practical and convenient for patients. The last thing you want to do if you’ve suffered an injury, have weakness or pain or difficulty moving, is haul yourself into a car, bus or train and go somewhere for therapy. If you can do safe and effective therapy in the comfort of your own home, still guided by medical professionals, who wouldn’t want that option?
Yesterday, I met with a prominent trauma surgeon from Australia who came to visit me at our Microsoft offices in Redmond. We shared our excitement for how technology is redefining the treatment and care of patients. We talked about telemedicine, wearable devices, home monitoring, sensors, lab on a chip, virtual and augmented reality, the internet of things, and future uses of technologies like Kinect, Microsoft Band, Microsoft HoloLens and the Microsoft Health Intelligence Engine. I think it is increasingly clear that the practice of medicine, medical education, healthcare delivery, and just about everything we know about prevention, treatment, and cure are being transformed by digital information communications technologies, sometimes in the most surprising and unexpected ways.
Having achieved some success in Europe, NeuroAtHome is now exploring other markets including the United States. You can learn more about this company on its website. For more information on Microsoft technologies in health and healthcare, visit our worldwide health site.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft