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Neuro rehab technology

Redefining rehab possibilities through gaming

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With the creation of LusioMATE, rehabilitation is being revolutionised through the use of gaming. NR Times meets Justin Keenan, CEO of Lusio Rehab, to learn more about the world-first device

 

From a series of chance encounters came the creation of a business which is helping to revolutionise therapy and rehabilitation on a global scale through the use of gaming. 

With the creation of LusioMATE, the world’s first wearable therapy controller and game ecosystem, Lusio Rehab is helping to redraw the boundaries and rehab potential for people living with neurological conditions and other disabilities around the world. 

Since its launch in 2019, the device has expanded far beyond its origins in Australia to be in use in the UK, across Europe, the United States and South America. 

Already widely adopted by neuro professionals to create bespoke exercise programmes for both ‘in-clinic’ and ‘at-home’ settings – with groundbreaking technology providing real-time data to monitor clients’ engagement remotely – during the pandemic, the use of LusioMATE has “skyrocketed”, and manufacturing capacity has had to be scaled up to meet this growing demand.

Another area where demand is high is for fresh gaming content. With a current suite of 28 games developed in house, Lusio Rehab’s commitment to constantly expand on the client experience, whether through new games or new feature development, is strong and something they take very seriously. 

“I think the most rewarding thing for us is when we hear of the achievements that are made through using LusioMATE, when clients have gone far beyond their preconceived ideas of what they are capable of,” says Justin Keenan, CEO of Lusio Rehab. 

“By being completely engrossed in their exercise via the games we have created, people are way surpassing their pre-supposed limitations. It genuinely gives me goosebumps to know we’re enabling such achievements. We talk about ‘rehab without boundaries’ and I think that’s exactly what it is. 

“But while we’re delivering incredible results, this isn’t a finished product and it probably won’t ever be. Since the earliest days, we’ve been led by clients and professionals, that’s how our story started, and that will always be the case. We’re building the car as we’re driving it.” 

The business has been blessed by many interventions – “we’ve had a lot of sliding door moments and serendipity”, says Justin – which have enabled it to get to where it is today.

Back in 2015, Armin Songhori, now head of tech at Lusio Rehab, was working in his native Iran. A seasoned entrepreneur and robotics engineer, he was approached by a doctor friend, who was treating Arshia, a five-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy. 

“He was struggling to find a way to engage Arshia in at-home therapy, he wasn’t motivated to do it at all,” says Justin. 

“Armin got thinking, and realised a remote-controlled car may be a good place to start with a young boy. He created a bendable sensor for Arshia’s wrist, which enabled him to control the car whilst doing his therapy, and Arshia absolutely fell in love with it. 

“That was the eureka moment for Armin in how gamification could help with physical therapy. That was the start of the rollercoaster ride into the world we now find ourselves in.” 

Armin then moved to Australia, where Justin ran a recruitment business. Justin needed help in shortlisting candidates with expertise in C++ code, and was introduced to Armin by fellow recruitment entrepreneur Chris McGowan, who was also to become part of the Lusio Rehab story.  

“While we were working together, Armin told me about his invention for Arshia, which was now onto its fourth prototype, and he asked what I thought. It was amazing – but without any experience of how to launch this type of product and no experience in healthcare, we were just three friends on a mission to see where it took us,” says Justin.

Then came the next stroke of luck.  

“When meeting with an IoT expert in our network we learnt of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and their Remarkable Tech accelerator programme, which championed technology to improve the lives of people living with a disability. It sounded perfect for us – but the deadline was that same day,” recalls Justin. 

“Fortunately, we got the application in, completed the pitch, and were shortlisted onto the programme. Being mentored by leaders in medtech and working closely with clinical experts, within six months we’d gone from a great idea to the foundations of a great product that could change people’s lives.” 

And from there came a business which is delivering often life-changing moments. Whether for children who struggle with habilitation, or for adults who have seemingly reached their potential, or for older people in care homes, LusioMATE is helping people to realise new possibilities. 

Initially rolled out through the Cerebral Palsy Alliance network across New South Wales, its ease of use and ability to engage people of all ages and abilities through gaming has been central to its worldwide growth. 

“That’s the core principle – it’s inclusive – but we are constantly working on new features,” says Justin. 

“We’re continually working with clients and therapists to ensure it delivers. We’re proud that any age group, of any physical capability, who require physical therapy to prevent deterioration or improve quality of life, will benefit from LusioMATE. The sensors can be tailored to the client’s specific range of motion such that it can really help anyone, regardless of their range of movement.

“At the same time, although technology is amazing, if people don’t know how to use it, or it’s not what they need, then it’s useless. We’re certainly not afraid to revise any part of its DNA and do so all the time.  

“We originally launched with a prescription gaming feature where therapists could create very detailed exercise plans. However feedback from our clinical partners taught us that they didn’t have time for duplication of work, writing their own internal client reports and prescriptions to LusioMATE. But they loved the idea of creating movement goals for their clients, so we designed ‘the detail’ out and streamlined the experience. 

“We are always engaging with people, listening to their feedback and responding. We’re also lucky to have an exceptional team who work tirelessly on every aspect of the tech and client experience.

“We’re not a developer of assistive technology who creates a product then that’s it, we want to be on the journey with the people who use it.” 

One area in which LusioMATE has always been hugely effective – and particularly so during the pandemic – is with its at-home rehab. 

“When clients do their therapy at home, I don’t think it’s uncommon for a bit of ‘slacking off’ to happen, but for the first time ever, physios and OTs can get real time data to see whether that is the case or not, which allows them to triage the situation,” says Justin. 

“As with Arshia in the very earliest days of Lusio, the need to do at-home therapy is hugely important, but often people aren’t as engaged as they could be. But through gamification, we’ve helped to address that. 

“When the pandemic hit, telehealth came in pretty much overnight, and with LusioMATE, the therapy could move from being physically in-clinic to being at-home. 

“Those therapists who already used LusioMATE already had the clients’ bespoke plans in place, and they could be monitored remotely using that data.  And among individual users, the take-up absolutely skyrocketed for us.  

“Clients soon realised that the remote limitations were endless, with the scope for taking LusioMATE on holidays, while travelling, and even when working. Essentially LusioMATE is a therapist in your pocket.”

Going forward, Justin and his team are focused on continuing the global roll-out, with LusioMATE now ahead in its strategic plans due to its huge popularity during the pandemic. 

“When we first launched the product, we did worry it was too early, but like with all inventions there are the early adopters who helped it to grow, and we built from there – now, we have built really strongly during the past year and will keep going,” says Justin. 

“We are bringing more clients in day by day, week by week, and are increasing our client base in both born and acquired disability and injury. 

“We continue to add new features, most recently a trophy-based reward system to motivate player adherence, which also doubles up as an ‘at a glance’ monitoring tool for clinicians too.  

“There is a whole range of data that we can provide to clinicians for monitoring, and we are currently looking to expand what data we can display in-app for easy reference.  

“We’re also looking to create an inclusive leaderboard – one that is based on achievement of goals and not necessarily on how long or how many times you’ve played something.

“We’re constantly looking at how to make the game play a richer experience, and adapting what we do in response to client and therapist needs. The work is ongoing and we’re committed to making LusioMATE the best it can be. 

“The difference we’ve made so far has been fantastic – not in terms of the market necessarily, we’re not a disruptor, but to people’s lives. To hear the stories of people who have achieved and exceeded their personal movement goals is what it’s all about. Helping people like this is such a privilege for us all at Lusio Rehab.” 

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