Sensing Future Technologies, a startup company based in Coimbra, Portugal, has developed a system called PhysioSensing that relies on a dense electronic pressure pad to assess a variety of characteristics about a person’s physical state, including balance, limits of stability, and related parameters. It can also be used, in a combination with gaming software, to help people with neurological and musculoskeletal conditions to rehabilitate. We had a chance to speak with one of the company founders, Pedro De Jesus Mendes, about PhysioSensing and to find out how it works and what it can offer to patients and rehabilitation specialists.
Medgadget: Can you describe why your company felt there’s a need for this technology and what was missing in the marketplace before?
Pedro De Jesus Mendes: In the field of physical rehabilitation a new generation of products is emerging with more and more expression. This generation is characterized by measuring devices based on force sensors, inertial sensors / accelerometers or motion sensors. These contribute to an objective and quantified assessment of the condition of the user. Information collected by all these sensors is condensed into a powerful visual biofeedback for the patient and health professional. The diversity of these equipments is felt already and not everyone is prepared to reach the market. We have noticed that some devices are not yet oriented to the clinical practice of potential users. PhysioSensing aims to position itself in a niche focused on clinical practice and intervention, with results comparable to the state of the art, quick setup and use, ease of use thanks to a low learning curve. PhysioSensing also aims to be a reference in the democratization and availability of this type of technology in the physical rehabilitation market due to its competitive price.
Medgadget: Can you give us an overview of the capabilities of the PhysioSensing device? How is it used to evaluate a person and to help with rehabilitation?
Mendes: The capabilities of PhysioSensing are grouped into small modules or categories:
- Evaluation and Training of Balance and Stability
- Load Distribution Assessment
- Load Transfer Training
- Feet Pressure Map
- Protocols: Falling Risk, Limits of Stability – LOS, Modified Clinical Test f Sensory Interaction on Balance – CTSIB
- 1 2D game with several therapeutic situations
- 1 3D game with several therapeutic situations
From the perspective of the patient can use PhysioSensing to:
- Set goals to achieve
- Motivation to adhere to therapy
- Effort quantify
From the perspective of the health professional can use of PhysioSensing to:
- Quick assessment
- Therapeutic exercise
- Quantify results
- Evaluate the results of your therapeutic plan
Medgadget: What is the scientific evidence for this technology to be widely adopted?
Mendes: In the development of PhysioSensing we always work with health professionals. However we never ignore the state of scientific art. We have carefully studied a large number of scientific evidence about the benefits, difficulties and results of applying this type of technology. At the moment the number of scientific papers documenting the use of these technologies is very high and references are easily found for:
- Balance training after stroke
- Balance training after head injury
- Assessment and reduction of risk of fall
- Load Distribution Training After Hip Surgery
- Balance training and load distribution after trauma to the knee and ankle
- Balance training for Cerebral Palsy and Parkinson’s
- Balance training for increased sports performance and reduced risk of injury
- Evaluation of vestibular balance
We closely follow our clients to observe usage routines, document results obtained and conduct case studies or scientific articles.
Medgadget: It seems that the Wii Fit Balance Board from Nintendo has similar hardware. How does PhysioSensing differ in what it can do?
Mendes: It’s a question I’m used to answering. Actually the hardware is not the same because the PhysioSensing has 1600 sensors providing the pressure map and the Wii Fit Balance has only 4. Though we recognize the interesting capability it has for evaluating the balance and it has even an extensive bibliography that we know of. As I was stating at the beginning, although there are several solutions of this technology, the use of the Wii Fit Balance Board was not relevant and it was not affirmed. Firstly because its purpose is to play, it does not return a clinical report, the games and challenges are not prepared for a rehabilitation context. The health professional found it difficult to integrate Wii in his routine. After that we have a number of questions regarding its availability once its production has been discontinued. We even got to have our Wii-directed Equilibrium application but then we did not have platforms.
Medgadget: What kind of software does it come with and can it integrate with other related applications?
Mendes: The main focus of PhysioSensing is the evaluation and training of Balance. Other devices can be integrated such as the Microsoft Kinect Camera and inertial sensors for motion detection. This platform can be integrated with a powerful application of gait analysis whichis not developed by us. All these extras are optional.
Medgadget: Is the the device available in the U.S. and Europe for purchase? Is it something that a rehabilitation facility would have as a part of its toolchest or do you expect patients to take one home while they work on their rehab?
Mendes: PhysioSensing is available in the market for purchase. We ship worldwide. Just visit our product website and request an order at www.physiosensing.net
We are looking for distributors for PhysioSensing! Contact us for information and distribution conditions! At this time the PhysioSensing is a medical device to be in clinical context.
Medgadget: Please give us a bit of a summary about your company and what you are working on and hoping to develop in the future.
Mendes: We design, develop and implement technological medical devices in a unique synergy between Engineering and Health, created by professionals with great experience. Sensing Future is a multidisciplinary team, with vast experience and knowledge in the areas of mechanical engineering, biomedical, electronics and computer science. These competencies, allied to important synergies in the health area, allow Sensing Future to define technical specifications and develop innovative medical devices as PhysioSensing.
At the moment we work in these fields:
- Rehabilitation Technology
- Medical Robotics
In the future we intend to continue improving PhysioSesing for a best experience interaction. At the same time we are developing a robot for tele-ecography for telemedicine market.