Baltimore startup uses video game technology to improve physical therapy experience

Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 1:16pm EST Baltimore startup uses video game technology to improve physical therapy experience Sarah Gantz Baltimore Business Journal Kate Sterf, art director for Rehabtics, demos the startup’s program. Share via Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn Share via Email Xiaoxu Kang is shooting high. The Johns Hopkins Ph.D. student turned entrepreneur wants to make exercise fun. Kang’s company Rehabtics is developing a software program called ArmSPOT that would allow patients to complete physical rehabilitation workouts in the comfort of their own living room. The system aims to make patients more engaged in their rehab and improve their outcomes by turning workouts into a game. The system’s capability to send data about patients’ workouts to their doctors allows doctors to better track progress. It also gives patients the extra push to follow through on their doctors’ orders. The company, started in October 2012, recently received a $158,000 grant from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program to work with University of Maryland, Baltimore physical therapy and rehabilitation professor Jill Whithall. The company has received a total of $250,000 in funding so far. Rehabtics is looking to raise additional money by June or July but Kang declined to say how much. The seven-person company is based at the ETC at Johns Hopkins Eastern. The startup’s software program uses motion cameras to translate patients’ movement to avatars on their computer screens. The program allows users to choose exotic destinations for their workout, like the beach, and awards prizes and badges for reaching goals. Meanwhile the system sends real-time data about patients’ workouts to their doctors whenever they complete an exercise or task. It is intended to be a more affordable and portable alternative to robotic exercise devices that must be used at a hospital or clinic and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The system is designed to appeal to patients so they can complete rehabilitation work at home rather than making multiple trips to hospitals and clinics. But it could also be valuable to hospitals. Under Maryland’s new hospital payment system, medical centers will be looking for ways to make sure patients are following through with their doctors’ orders so that they don’t wind up back in the hospital. A system that sends doctors real-time updates on patients progress can help them be sure patients are doing their homework and track their improvement. Rehabtics is in advanced discussions with local hospitals and clinics to use the system, Kang said. She hopes to have the program in hospitals and clinics this spring. A version for at-home use should be available this fall. The kit includes the software as well as a mini computer and the motion sensor camera. Kang declined to say how much the kit costs. Eventually, Kang hopes to be able to allow customers to simply download the software onto their own computers, but there are a few bugs to work out first.

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