António Fernandes had a stroke that profoundly affected his movements and speech and consequently his autonomy. His clinical condition required him to do rehabilitation sessions, and so, as the majority of patients do, António started his rehabilitation on a physical therapy clinic, where he only had 3 hours of therapy a day.
Due to his movement limitations, António required help to go to the clinic and back home. In fact, his wife and him spent two hours from their home to the clinic, to spend 45 minutes in the rehabilitation session, and then another 2 hours back, each day that he had to go to the clinic. This was highly inefficient, António was spending more time commuting than rehabilitating, which further decreased his motivation.
That was until SWORD Phoenix entered the picture. António started doing rehabilitation at his own home. His family didn’t need to change their routines, since everything was done at their home. With SWORD, António had rehabilitation sessions every day, and his engagement with his treatment was palpable. He was even able to do the treatment independently.
Content with results, António said: “With SWORD, we gained the possibility to maximize recovery chances with sessions made independently in our home, supervised by trained and caring professionals. This has been priceless. We could not recommend more SWORD Phoenix. Thank you, SWORD Health!”
This recovery story and other quotes from patients as follow shows why SWORD Phoenix is changing the rehabilitation paradigm, by having a profound impact on the patient’s lives.
Virgínia Rodrigues- a pacient that had a knee replacement
“It was a wonderful thing that happened to me. If it weren’t for SWORD, I think I wouldn’t be walking by now. Anyone who needs rehabilitation should have access to this. I don’t have to get out of the house, deal with traffic or change my routine… I rehabilitate right in my home!”
Salete Bento – a pacient that had hip replacement
“I started doing SWORD right after my surgery. In just two weeks I noticed significant improvements, I was confident and motivated in my rehabilitation process. I continue to evolve every day, the results are great and I just returned to my normal routine. I am really thankful for my recovery!”
**Portuguese start-up aims to revolutionize physical rehabilitation industry*** By Axel Bugge | LISBON
When Virgilio Bento's brother had to go to Cuba 20 years ago to receive cheap physiotherapy as he recovered from a life-threatening car crash back home in Portugal, he did not know it would inspire an innovation.
Now, after developing technology that uses body sensors and artificial intelligence for his doctorate in electronic engineering, Bento aims to transform the way victims of strokes and accidents physically recover.
The Stroke Wearable Operative Rehabilitation Device (SWORD) provides an exercise program on a tablet computer, which gives instructions to a patient, whose movements are monitored by sensors strapped to the body. Progress reports are sent through the cloud to a remote physiotherapist, who can alter the exercises by sending instructions back to the tablet for the patient to see.
"It's not magic, it's simple," said Bento, explaining how his system could mark a sea change by dramatically reducing the cost of physical rehabilitation and making it affordable to millions.
"I saw first hand very vividly the challenges that my parents faced to provide intensive physical rehabilitation", he said. "I thought to myself 'ok this is a huge challenge that nobody is looking at, nobody is trying to solve, I will try to solve it'".
The market place for medical technology is exploding, but few solutions have been designed to aid the intensive physiotherapy required for serious conditions like stroke. Alternatives, like robotics, are vastly more expensive.
"There aren't enough therapists and the numbers (who need them) are only going to go up (as populations age)", said Tom Paprocki, managing director of the innovation and technology center at Direct Supply, America's leading provider of equipment and services to senior homes. "This kind of technology will help bridge that gap".
Paprocki has vetted 1,400 technology start-ups in the sector and says Bento's system is in the top five. Bento's idea is simple -- to offer patients physical, interactive rehabilitation in the comfort of their own home by getting rid of the need for difficult and expensive visits to a physiotherapist at a clinic. It has taken years to refine and adapt, relying on unique sensor technology and the latest advances in cloud computing. Initial results show 93 percent of patients improved their motor performance using the exercises provided by the system.
The yearly estimated cost of treating and caring for stroke survivors - where Bento has concentrated his research - is 30 billion euros ($32 billion) in Europe and 57 billion euros in the U.S., according to a report provided by Bento's company to the European Commission.
Bento says his system, which gives patients immediate feedback and a score on the number of right and wrong movements they perform, will cost one tenth of physiotherapy.
"At the end of each exercise the results appear, how many times I did the movements, how many medals I won", said Alvaro, 56, who has used the system after hip surgery. "There is virtual compensation if you do the exercises well, it's kind of fun and ends up being a bit of a game as well".
Bento won a development grant of 1 million euros from the European Union in 2014 under a program for technology models promising to "ultimately disrupt existing markets".
He has raised 1 million euros from private investors and is now launching another financing round of 3 million euros as he rolls out SWORD in the U.S. market.
($1 = 0.9426 euros)
(Reporting By Axel Bugge; Editing by Toby Davis)
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