Rehabilitation is required for anyone who must get an artificial hip or knee joint. The problem is taking the time away from work to make appointments. Thus patients often do not get the follow up care required to help them recover. But soon, rehabilitation may be possible in the patient’s own home.
Hip- and knee-joint patients could soon benefit from new telemedical exercise therapy. Its effectiveness seems to be getting lots of attention. The product should be available on the market in 2019, thanks to Fraunhofer FOKUS in Germany.
Tabbed the ReMove-It project, Fraunhofer and its partners have developed telemedicine-based exercise therapy that allows patients to organize their rehabilitation more flexibly. Patients with artificial hip or knee joints require extensive inpatient rehabilitation in order to be able to quickly regain their normal movement. “This is particularly a challenge for working people in rural areas. Internet-based telemedicine offers can be a useful supplement in such cases,” says Dr. Michael John of the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS.
So recently Berlin researchers partnered with rehabilitation clinics, sports physicians and rehabilitation scientists to develop this telemedicine-based exercise therapy following hip or knee replacement. It is based on the MeineReha system of the Fraunhofer FOKUS. The partners have demonstrated its effectiveness through a representative study and want to offer it as a “medical device” for inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation facilities starting in 2019.
Here’s how this therapy works. Videos are central to telemedicine-based exercise treatment. The therapist performs the prescribed exercises and the patient imitates them in front of the screen. The videos are recorded by the respective therapists themselves and individually tailored to each patient. Standing, sitting and lying exercises are possible.
According to reports on the new therapy, if the patient does not follow medical guidelines, he receives corrective instructions during the performance of the movement. After completing the exercise, the patient receives feedback concerning the quality of performance in the form of red and green marks attributed to the upper body, arms and legs. Following the therapy session, the medical staff in the clinic receives the movement data documented during the exercise procedure via the Internet.
What the process does is provide the supervising physician and therapist thereby with an overview of the level of performance and development of the patient in order to optimally adapt the treatment plan to the progress of the therapy. The treating physician, therapist and patient remain in constant contact with each other with the help of text, audio and video messages.
There is cost and some technology that goes into this approach. Patients must purchase a small 3-D cam with Internet access and the corresponding software as well as to have a standard TV screen. They are introduced to the use of the system by therapists.
Accordng to Fraunhofer, “The system’s degree of accuracy is so high that the exercise performance and training success can be measured in real time. This is ensured by an algorithm programmed by the Berlin researchers. It continuously adjusts the patient’s exercise patterns that are recorded by a 3-D cam with optimal parameters that have previously been defined together with the therapists and patients, such as the angle or the position of the joints, as well as skeletal data.”