Bloomington, IN Medical Device Startup Using Video Game Technology for Rehab

WellPlay Health, LLC, a start-up based in Bloomington (IN), seeking to change how patients and therapists work together during rehabilitation by providing a more engaging, collaborative, and user-centered solutions intended to maximize the patient’s recovery.  The company is currently developing WellPlay: Rehab, an online platform featuring tele-health tools and games designed to achieve therapy outcomes for physical and cognitive functioning. This platform represents a significant innovation in tele-rehabilitation and the use of game technology.

While there are several health conditions that will ultimately benefit from WellPlay: Rehab, the initial application of this technology will be in brain injury rehabilitation (i.e., stroke and traumatic brain injury). This innovative platform utilizes expertise in game design, rehabilitation therapy, motion detection technologies, tele-health strategies, and social support tools to create a unique environment for supporting physical and occupational therapists in guiding and monitoring the patient.

The Problem

Maximum recovery of daily activities and reducing re-admission rates for brain injury-related complications (including falling) is dependent on a longer-term, exercise-based therapy. That therapy begins while the patient is in the inpatient setting and usually continues after discharge where they will periodically meet with a therapist at either an outpatient clinic, skilled nursing facility, or in the patient’s home. In between these visits, the therapist will recommend or prescribe exercises to be performed by the patient on their own.  Since a typical patient has limited health insurance coverage for rehabilitation services, therapists must rely on the patient complying with these exercises to assist in their recovery. Unfortunately, research data on compliance with these exercises indicate that most patients will not or cannot persist on their own. In fact, only 31 percent of patients actually perform these exercises as prescribed (Shaughnessy 2006).  A large multi-state study in the Midwest identified the lack of patient compliance and limitations on outpatient clinic visits (and hence, monitoring) imposed by insurance policies as the top two challenges in stroke rehabilitation (GLRSN 2008).

The Solution

WellPlay: Rehab platform provides both an entertaining context and an effective feedback mechanism to properly guide the patient through home-based exercises prescribed by his/her therapist. Meaningful data are captured from game play and shared with both patient and therapist to provide the necessary feedback on progress being made.

Rehabilitation games, designed in collaboration with physical and occupational therapists, will enable patients to achieve such outcomes as balance, coordination, endurance, strength, range of motion, and cognition. Progress toward these outcomes will lay the foundation enabling the patient to achieve functional and transitional goals identified by his/her therapist.  As the patient works toward their goals, they will be guided from game-to-game through activities designed to incorporate the therapy necessary to achieve these goals.

A second key feature is WellPlay: Rehab’s ability to function as a tele-health platform. During game play, WellPlay: Rehab observes, measures, and evaluates specific motor movements within each game, as well as capture data such as frequency and duration of movement.  The data captured during game play is made available to the patient’s therapist to allow for remote monitoring and communication with the patient. The therapists is then capable of evaluating progress, making necessary adjustments, and determining when they should next meet in person; thus, minimizing the frequency such visits must take place, enhancing access while adding convenience and lowering cost.

Finally, our solution will leverage multi-player game play to enhance the social support component of a patient’s rehabilitation.  Existing game consoles enable multi-player, online game play.  We will leverage these features so patients may socialize, compete, and/or rehabilitate together.

Core Functionality

  1. Rehab Games. Suites of games designed to achieve functional outcomes for upper and lower extremities.
  2. Therapist Portal.  The portal provides a toolset that enables access to and use of data collected during game play.  Functionality includes:
    1. Patient Assessment Module
    2. Treatment Module
    3. Progress Module
    4. Messaging
    5. Reporting System
  3. Group Tele-Health. Game play is enhanced to provide the necessary social support structure during rehabilitation. Patients can play and/or compete with fellow patients, family members and friends while rehabilitating.
  4. Establishing Best Practices and Decision Support. Frequent game play from a large pool of patients will generate data that will be used to inform the therapist’s selection of games or combination of games that achieve the best outcomes.
  5. Secure Tele-Health within a Game Environment.  Necessary security protocols and safeguards are in place to enable the secure transmission and storage of personal health information via online gaming sites.

Management Team

  • Pete Grogg, MHA – Chief Executive. Pete leads WellPlay Heath’s strategic direction and the development and management of company’s strategic partnerships.  He brings 23 years of health care management experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings. His areas of expertise include health care delivery, consumer health technologies, health information technologies, and health information exchange.
  • Hamid Ekbia, PhD – Chief Scientist. Hamid leads the development of research objectives supporting the strategic direction of our company, its products, and services.  He also serves as the point of contact with all academic partnerships and initiatives intended to broaden our knowledge and talent base and future product development.  Hamid’s background is in computer, cognitive, and information sciences.  More recently, Hamid has applied his knowledge in human-computer interaction to the technical advances in health information technology as Associate Professor at Indiana University’s School of Library and Information Science and Director of the Center for Research on Mediated Interaction.
  • Doug Bennett – President.  Doug will be directing operations and business development activities while contributing significantly to the strategic direction of both product and company.  He brings two decades of experience in financial management, strategy development, and business development to the WellPlay Health team.
  • T.J. Deckard – Chief Architect.  TJ has over 13 years experience of development experience in leading teams in the design, development, deployment of applications and technologies in the health care and financial industries.

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