Neurorehabilitation Vendors Expand Market Opportunityby James Cavuoto, editor
The market for neurorehabilitation products continues to expand, with established vendors consolidating their product lines and new technologies entering the arena.
One key European manufacturer is Hocoma in Switzerland, which markets the Lokomat robotic neurorehabilitation system. The company recently sold its 500th system to a hospital in Hong Kong. Hocoma revenues reached CHF31 million ($33 million) last year and are growing at a 13-percent rate.
Earlier this year, Bioness Inc., the Valencia, CA manufacturer of neurorehabilitation systems, announced the first U.S. installations of its new Vector Gait and Safety system. The system, first installed in June at the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute, and now in place at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio and WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital in Raleigh, NC, aims to transform gait, balance, and functional rehabilitation by allowing healthcare providers to administer rehabilitative care sooner and more aggressively.
The system allows therapists to train their patients in overground gait, balance, and a variety of functional activities following neurologic and orthopedic injuries or any other conditions requiring assistive gait and rehabilitative training. It consists of an overhead robotic trolley, a wireless software interface, and conductive rail. During rehabilitation, the patient is connected to the Vector via a harness that is attached to the robot on the ceiling-mounted, zero-footprint rail. The robotic trolley receives commands from the software and automatically tracks patient movement or may be manually operated by a healthcare provider.
Parameters such as body weight support and fall protection settings can be adjusted by the therapist via the wireless controls and are set based on individual patient needs or requirements for a specific activity—all the data collected during training is then captured for analysis, session comparison, and medical record documentation.
“Today’s rehabilitation environment is challenged to accomplish timely and impactful clinical outcomes and the approach to therapy is often dictated to or limited by concerns for patient and therapist safety. Safe and independent ambulation is directly linked to a patient’s length of stay, and healthcare providers have struggled to balance patient outcomes with safety,” said Thomas Fogarty, president and CEO of Bioness. “The Vector system enables the rehabilitative team to increase patient mobility while reducing the risk of injury, providing an ideal solution to not only progress patients to independent ambulation quicker, but document those outcomes and keep personnel safe throughout the process.”
Another competitor in the robotic neurorehabilitation space is AlterG, a venture-backed rehabilitation device firm in Fremont, CA. Earlier this year, the company acquired Tibion Corp. of Sunnyvale, CA, which makes the Tibion Bionic Leg, a strap-on, battery-powered “intentional” orthosis that enhances rehabilitation therapy for patients with impaired leg function caused by stroke, neuromuscular disease, trauma, or aging.