A Clinical Doctor's Explanation of Health Tech in Asia (Series＃6）
The Second Part: AI-Enabled Portable Arm Rehabilitation Robot, “H-MAN”
Potential of Digital Tools in the Rehabilitation Field
In the previous part, I introduced the development of rehabilitation digital tools that can be used at home, under conditions where supply is not keeping up with the large potential demand from people who would benefit from rehabilitation. In this part, we will take a closer look at the “H-MAN” developed by the Singapore startup Articares Pte Ltd (hereafter, “Articares”), which is introduced in the previous article, based on several research reports.
One of the most common diseases requiring rehabilitation is stroke-induced paralysis. Still, it is said to be more challenging to recover the functions of the upper limbs than the lower limbs. The “H-MAN” is a digital tool that enables rehabilitation of the upper limbs through a gamified experience by manipulating a mechanical robotic stick while engaging and playing different gaming scenarios displayed on a screen. Incorporating the exergame element is designed to make rehabilitation more engaging and enjoyable while continuing rehabilitation. Since many patients usually have difficulty in motivating themselves, such a device is considered very useful.
When manipulating the robotic handle, the device tracks cognitive responses to game stimuli, the direction of movement, and more importantly, improvements to key upper limb functions such as strength, agility, speed and coordination over time. In addition, parameters such as mean time to maximum speed (TpeakN) and spectral arc length (SPARK), which have been the focus of much attention in recent years, can be quantitatively evaluated. *1 SPARK is a variable for evaluating the smoothness of movement proposed by Balasubramanian et al. in 2015. It has recently been used as an evaluation tool for gait disorders in Parkinson's disease. *2
The “H-MAN” is also portable in size, allowing rehabilitation to continue in the comfort of home. Through the telerehabilitation capabilities of the “Care Platform”, a therapist can remotely create and modify personalized rehabilitation plan for the patients, including tracking and monitoring of their progresses. At this point, an AI called “clinical AI (cAI)” will propose a rehabilitation plan according to an algorithm based on the progress of the patient's rehabilitation. Of course, it is not a replacement for a therapist. Still, it is expected to prevent severe accidents by proposing a reasonable rehabilitation plan in the comfort of the patient's home. *3
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