When “combined with conventional rehabilitation” it has the potential to improve motor and cognitive performance in neurologic patients alongside “additional benefits” (Maier M et al, 2019).

New tests of its efficacy continue to emerge, while technological advancement is blurring the lines between the real and virtually real.

Few VR rehabilitation systems can boast as much clinical evidence as that developed by Barcelona tech firm Eodyne in partnership with SPECS-lab, part of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC).

The Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS) has been over 15 years in the making (Ballester et al, 2019) – and is now used in 50+ hospitals in Europe, the US and South America.

It brings together artificial intelligence, sensor technology and gamified exercises.

It takes up little room in clinics and hospitals – with just a screen, motion tracker and a pair of wearable “sleeves” with calibration sensors.

And it certainly packs a punch, helping people with stroke, as well as other neurological conditions including traumatic brain injury, to reclaim lost functions.

In terms of hand strength and function, it enables motor training of hand supination and pronation, grasp and release, pinch, finger extension, general strength and bimanual coordination.

Comprehensive upper limb training is also supported, in areas such as reaching, range and speed control and alternate coordination.

Cognitive training is delivered in the form of sustained and divided attention, action planning and memory.

The firm has also developed full body applications.

Eodyne is now working on a project funded by the European Union-backed healthcare innovation group EIT Health, and involving various clinical, academic

and technology partners, to dramatically spread the reach of RGS. The RGS@HOME project aims to develop a home version of the system to assist patients with motor and cognitive recovery after a stroke.

The solution will speed-up recovery and, by allowing for home treatment, drastically reduce the length of hospital treatment that patients require.

Eodyne’s business development director Santiago Brandi tells NR Times on a busy stand at the Medica conference in Dusseldorf: “When people go to outpatient rehabilitation, they normally spend up to six months receiving rehabilitation.

“This may involve ambulance trips and other use of infrastructure resources. The idea is that we can discharge them earlier by providing a tool to deliver home-based rehabilitation.

“With just a computer and a sensor you could train as many hours per day as you can, which is very important for recovery.

“We’re currently conducting scientific preparation of the technology and validation studies. In 2020, we’ll be testing the system in patient homes in Sweden, France and Spain.

“The science behind it and the clinical effect have already been validated, so we’ll instead be validating the usability and the adherence of patients. Then in 2021 we hope to commercialise it.”

Under current plans, the cost of the product will bein the region of about £80 per patient per month to hospitals or trusts.

“The idea is to bring about a massive reduction in healthcare costs,” says Brandi, who believes Eodyne’s advantage in a competitive market of rehab aids is the weight of clinical evidence gathered over 15 years.

Also, the company’s lab is building “an ecosystem of stroke products” – including one related to treating speech difficulties – that RGS users could benefit from in future.