May 2021: An exciting new project has been launched to develop an advanced eHealth solution for stroke rehabilitation. With many stroke patients finding it difficult to attend appointments and with restrictions imposed by Covid-19, home-based rehabilitation is becoming a more attractive solution. The patients benefit from being in their home environment and healthcare providers can save time and resources through remote care.
Italian technology company Ab.Acus has developed an eHealth platform ‘RehabMe’ to provide home based rehabilitation of the upper limbs of stroke patients. It comprises of a wearable device worn by the patient on the limb requiring therapy, with a set of smart labels placed on objects they use daily in their home. This provides a highly personalised exercise tool for the patient, supported remotely by a therapist. The technology behind RehabMe uses radio frequency (RF) communication to identify user–object interactions as well as the space localization of the user’s hand. This allows the automatic guidance of the patient to undertake functional exercises as part of the rehabilitation.
The new project ‘ROLLUP’ will enhance RehabMe through developing an engaging and portable workspace to further guide the therapy. It will produce a flexible mat, equipped with RF tags, which are able to detect the positioning of the patient’s hand, with a matrix of LEDs providing visual guidance. Using light-based signals, the spaces on the mat to be reached by the patient during the exercises, as well as the trajectory to be followed by the hand, will be clearly indicated to them. Overall, this will make the rehabilitation system more usable, accessible, and customisable.
ROLLUP will make use of flexible electronics to embed in a unique structure the LEDs, the tags and the electronics needed to communicate with, and control the mat. In addition, using a Bluetooth module, the mat will be wirelessly connected to the RehabMe platform and will work synergically with the overall system.
To develop the technology within the mat, Ab.Acus have been successful in securing support from SmartEEs2, a collaborative project funded by the European Union´s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 872076). It aims to help European Industry reinforce its competitive advantage by offering acceleration support to innovative companies to integrate flexible and wearable electronics technologies. VTT in Finland, a SmartEEs2 partner, will be providing research and technical support to Ab.Acus. UK based Beta Technology have also been engaged to support the business planning and routes to exploitation of the new technology.
Maria Bulgheroni, Ab.Acus R&D Director said “we are excited to be running this innovative project. We believe that ROLLUP will help us to set up a disruptive approach to home-based physiotherapy, with the potential to make a difference to the way healthcare is provided to patients with chronic conditions”.