Bionik Labs is a robotics company focused on providing artificial intelligence assistive and rehabilitation solutions in the healthcare sphere. The company has recently announced the launch of their new InMotion Arm V2 interactive robotic system, which is an advanced assistive robotic therapy system for patients recovering from neurological impairments such as stroke.
Bionik’s technology is found in over 200 hospitals in over 20 countries around the globe. To discover more about the technology and medical technology trends in general, Digital Journal spoke with Bionik CEO Dr. Eric Dusseux.
Digital Journal: What is the state of healthcare in the U.S. right now?
Eric Dusseux: Healthcare in the U.S. is in a state of gradual transition towards more patient-focused and efficient clinical practice. The current healthcare model focuses on time-based reimbursement that does not incentivize or reward healthcare providers for the quality or outcome of their care.
The new model for Medicare reimbursement, known as pay-for-performance or Value-Based Program (VBP), looks to reward better patient outcomes and encourage evidence-based practice. The changes are planned to be implemented in skilled nursing facilities on October 1st, 2018, with inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient centers likely to follow.
DJ: How is new technology influencing the way healthcare is delivered?
Dusseux: As in many industries, we are seeing technology innovate healthcare to make it smarter, more efficient, and more cost-effective. We have seen the introduction of burgeoning technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and brain-computer interfaces, which are prevalent in other industries, take a more prominent role in healthcare.
I believe we’ll continue to see a steady evolution of robotics in the medical industry over the next decade. I think there will be a sharp decline in traditional healthcare practices such as prescription of mobility-aides (canes and wheelchairs), use of paper documentation, and more as advanced technologies continue to develop and enter the market.
New technology will also start to influence how healthcare is delivered, with a critical need to reduce incidence and length of hospitalization, and cater for the population in the remote and rural areas of the U.S. Bionik is building an innovative product line that provides mobility solutions from the hospital to home, with the InMotion Home and a home-based lower limb device in various stages of development.
DJ: How is artificial intelligence affecting healthcare?
Dusseux: Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies have made many processes smarter and more intuitive, generating greater recovery for the patient – particularly for the rehabilitation of patients with neurological or mobility impairments. These technologies allow an exponential amount of data to be processed in real-time, enabling appropriately challenging and individualized therapy during every treatment session. Most importantly, AI can provide quantifiable feedback of a patient’s progress and performance in a way that a trained clinician cannot.
DJ: How about robotics?
Dusseux: The advancement of robotics, along with AI and machine learning technologies, has produced commercialized solutions that have an exceptional ability to objectively measure patient outcomes and provide interactive, adaptive therapy. Consider this – a clinician can manually assist a patient with 30-80 arm movements during a treatment session, with little ability to objectively measure any significant change in their movement pattern.
A Bionik InMotion rehabilitation robot allows a patient to complete hundreds (or even more than 1,000) of individualized, adaptive, and interactive movements during a session while precisely measuring and adjusting to the patient’s continuously-changing level of active movement.
DJ: Please explain about your new InMotion Arm interactive robotic system
Dusseux: The InMotion ARM puts neuro recovery within reach by helping stroke survivors and those with other neurological conditions to regain arm movement by training scapular protraction/retraction, shoulder flexion/extension, abduction/adduction, internal/external rotation, and elbow flexion/extension. The InMotion ARM guides the patient through specific tasks, aiming to improve motor control of the arm by increasing strength, range of motion, and coordination, and assisting with the provision of efficient, effective, intensive sensorimotor therapy.
DJ: What will this be used for?
Dusseux: If a patient is unable to move their arm, the robot gently assists the patient to initiate movement towards the target. If coordination is impaired, the robot guides movement, allowing the patient to practice good quality movement patterns through adaptive assistance and feedback. As the patient gains more active movement and coordination of their arm, the robot provides less assistance and continuously challenges the patient according to their performance, all while providing quantifiable feedback and generating a report on the progress of their motor control.
DJ: How did you go about developing the robot?
Dusseux: With more than 20 years of research, 200 peer-reviewed publications and 1,000+ patients in clinical trials, robotic therapy using InMotion Robots is a proven, evidence-based therapy intervention. Through clinical research we have discovered that robotic therapy can optimize patient outcomes by focusing on reducing motor impairments, allowing patients to actively participate in therapy that translates motor gains to the performance of functional tasks. As a result, Bionik’s modular therapy system approach to neurorehabilitation is designed to incorporate the latest clinical research in neuroscience, integrating the scientific principles of motor learning, interference, and motor memory consolidation.
DJ: Where is it in use currently?
Dusseux: The InMotion Arm is used in more than 20 countries and 200 hospitals/medical facilities including recent placements in Kansas and New Jersey.
DJ: What other products are you working on?
Dusseux: Our suite of InMotion interactive robotic systems includes the InMotion WRIST and ARM-HAND Robots. These systems, like the InMotion ARM, provide interactive and adaptive therapy for survivors of stroke or other neurological conditions that result in mobility impairments of the arm. These systems are used primarily in clinical settings. In addition, the previously mentioned InMotion Home will target patients who require ongoing intensive upper limb therapy after their inpatient rehabilitation, aiming to optimize neuroplasticity in the early stages or many years following stroke or neurological injury.
We also have a project targeting the consumer healthcare device market through the development of the ARKE lower limb exoskeleton. The ARKE has been designed for people with spinal cord injury or those with lower limb impairments due to stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other neurological conditions.
There is also significant opportunity for the robotics industry within the aging population, now approaching a billion people globally, who rely on unstable walkers or other wheeled devices for mobility. We have recently entered into a partnership with Wistron Corporation to manufacture a home-based version of ARKE to bring enhanced mobility to people in their homes. We have also entered into a partnership with Curexo, from South Korea, who have released an innovative virtual reality gait training device.
The “Morning Walk” is an end-effector gait trainer with a saddle-type body weight support system designed for the rehabilitation of adults and children with neurological or orthopedic mobility impairments. The exciting virtual reality software of the Morning Walk aims to engage and motivate patients to increase the intensity and duration of their therapy and improve patient outcomes.