CAREhab In The Spotlight With features in-depth interviews with the real people behind innovative healthcare organisations in the industry to shed light on tough healthcare challenges and how we can all become forces for positive progress.
In this second segment of the 3-Part Series with Ekso Bionics Spotlight interview, Ms. Lim Chwee Foon, CEO, Asia Pacific of Ekso Bionics, talks about how the adoption of robotics and technology impact the rehabilitation space.
Ms. Lim: The entire approach, in fact I would say, it’s been completely transformed, how rehabilitation is done or can be done..because of the technology that wasn’t available before. Given the limitation of many patients we deal with, these patients have sort of either weak physical condition and so they are not (many of them are not) able to start rehabilitation early. So in the phase when they are waiting to regain their strength, you know, we face this exact problem, we start to face atrophy.
And even when we get on to do rehabilitation, they are not able, because of their physical condition or injury, they might not be able to do high level dosage of walking or high intensity.., and many of them have compensatory movement, which you know, could in the long term be damaging. With an Ekso, we strap the patient to the Ekso. The Ekso is designed to hold the patient upright in a sort of natural, aligned posture, most importantly, the Ekso compensates for the lack of strength.
That enables the patient therefore to focus on doing the therapy, doing high dosage, high intensity and more importantly we are now able to start rehabilitation early in the phase.
So the exoskeleton technology is really about augmenting human capabilities; as I described, in the sort of military space, Exoskeleton was built initially to help soldiers to load/carry 200 pounds, 300 pounds, running… and so that technology, we quickly realised has greater value and application in the healthcare space.
What allows that, is really the intelligence of the unit. We have the ability or the Ekso GT has the intelligence to adapt dynamically to patient in real time, meaning it is giving assistance to the patient only when help is needed.
One of the key sort of characteristics of Ekso, is really the fact that we are walking patient over ground; so when they are doing that, they are more actively engaged in that activity. And this is different from other technologies we see now in the current rehab space; because when patients are walking over ground, they are actually (they need to be) engaged in that particular activity, and so that actually accelerates or promotes learning through neuroplasticity.
In terms of injury, we know that physiotherapists are particularly pretty prone to injuries themselves because of the very heavy loading and manual level of activities involved; but I think more importantly, with a technology like the Ekso GT, it opens up new possibilities.. they can now achieve much more than before and that, for them, brings great sense of satisfaction… when they see the clinical outcome, they feel empowered.. when they are able to achieve much more with the patient with the technology; and certainly for the more complex patients, you know, in the past you may need maybe 3 people, for example, to manage complex patients but with the Ekso GT, with the help of technology, you can possibly achieve greater productivity.. with perhaps, one or two persons.