When patients have suffered a stroke or severe brain injuries, they need intense rehabilitation therapy to recover as fast as possible. However, in healthcare systems around the world, there are not enough medical professionals available, and sometimes patients cannot afford to pay for expensive therapy sessions.
A new technological solution by the startup SynPhNe could change this: The startup, with headquarters in Singapore and India, has developed a wearable device which enables patients to conduct rehab exercises at home.
How does your wearable device work?
The patient wears the device on his head and his forearm. With sensors, we collect data about brain activity and physical muscle activity while the patient tries to execute a task, for example folding a sheet of paper.
The software reads these signals in real-time and identifies which reactions are supporting or restricting the intended movement. Based on this, our software offers a series of exercises which allow to change these reactions.
Step by step, the patient moves forward from easier to more complicated tasks. All these exercises require not only motor but also cognitive skills.
By using these exercises, we are for example able to train people to not only engage with upper limb activity but also to gain their balance back, to walk better, to start talking again, and finally to become completely independent.
One to six months of therapy with SynPhNe are usually enough for patients to become largely independent – and we have worked with patients who have suffered from a condition for ten to fifteen years.
How can SynPhNe help patients (i.e. those who have suffered a stroke)?
A stroke affects many different neurological and physiological aspects – your movements, your physical sensations, your balance, and sometimes also your way of thinking and your ability to speak.
When the patient puts on our device for the first time, an assessment of his individual condition is conducted. The software asks the patient to perform an exercise, for example to pick something up, and afterwards gives us an indication where to start with our training program.
After a few sessions, we ask the patient to set his top three goals for the next three months. Some want to be able to eat on their own, some want to be able to walk without walking aid or to go to the toilet by themselves. Then, we start working on these activities in a specific manner, identifying the reactions that are obstructing the movements and using exercises to change these reactions.
Soon, the patients realize they can perform some everyday tasks again, and they move forward to higher and higher goals, including returning to their previous profession or hobby.
What are the benefits of enabling patients to do their rehab exercises at home?
In many countries, there are simply not enough medical professionals to take care of the large number of patients. This is a serious problem, especially in countries with growing populations or in countries like Singapore and Japan with aging populations where the need for therapy will grow even bigger in the next years. If you depend on a hospital for rehab, it is almost impossible to get daily support – although research shows that the best clinical results are achieved when patients do guided rehab exercises every day.
Furthermore, in many countries of the world, rehab is not covered by insurance, or at best at the subacute state. For example, in Singapore a therapy session costs 100 to 250 dollars, whereas one session with SynPhNe only costs 20 to 30 dollars.
Our product makes good therapy affordable for a large number of people. Because the data of the wearable devices is saved on the cloud, the patient can consult one of our medical experts from everywhere in the world. For example, we have an expert in dyslexia who lives in South Africa, but regularly supervises patients in the United States. Because there is no physical presence required, cost is drastically reduced.