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Cogitat and Unit9 receive £500k grant to develop its stroke tech



Cogitat, the Imperial College London spin out pioneering brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, has today announced it has received a £500k Innovate UK grant in partnership with games developer, UNIT9.

This grant, awarded by the national innovation agency, will help to further its development of its virtual reality tele rehabilitation platform to support stroke survivors’ recovery.

Cogitat states that it is one of the first to develop non-invasive BCI technology in the UK. It has developed AI technology which can translate the brain’s motor cortex signal in order to control computer software like virtual reality games.

This grant will help Cogitat move into the next stage of its research and development and build its brain decoding software to be integrated into Unit9’s telerehabilitation platform ahead of trials with NHS stroke patients in early 2024.

It is hoped that Cogitat’s work in BCI will revolutionise the care for patients with brain disorders, such as stroke, or limb disabilities. They believe that this grant will help to quicken the stroke rehabilitation process and also help with over-stretched and under-resourced NHS rehabilitation resources. Cogitat, in partnership with NHS clinicians and UNIT9, are introducing a new approach to stroke recovery by enabling survivors to use their brain and movement activity to control immersive games as part of their rehabilitation. 

Cogitat state that BCI is a transformational technology wen applied in a telerehabilitation setting. As a new clinical resource, Cogitat will make it possible to provide personalised physiotherapy programmes which can give patients a sense of valuable progress that will result in greater engagement in the exercises and a higher quality of life.

Allan Ponniah, founder of Cogitat and a consultant with Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, says:  “Innovate UK’s grant is vital to the next stage of our development as we believe our neurotechnology can be a valuable tool for the under-resourced stroke rehabilitation market. 

“We have developed a way to decode brainwaves from the motor cortex with a wearable headset that links with virtual reality games to increase patient engagement and encourage the repetitive limb movements required for rehabilitation.”

Dr Simister, clinical lead for stroke at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH), says: “A hybrid model of therapy will be possible with Cogitat. A single therapist will work more efficiently by combining face-to-face review with remote observation and feedback via Cogitat’s gaming. 

“Users engaging with the system will feel encouraged to participate in therapy more frequently and for longer periods. Overall, the ‘dose’ of therapy received will increase and lead to better recovery.”