Together with PLUX Wireless Biosignals SA, Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS recently announced a new project that aims to develop a complement to the physiotherapy sessions performed at the clinics. Physio@Home proposes a technology based on smartphones or tablets and wearables containing electromiography (EMG) and inertial sensors. These will be used to track the execution of the movements and give feedback to the user at home.

The three years project, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under COMPETE 2020, intends to improve the efficiency and cost-efficacy of physiotherapy and rehabilitation processes. Physio@Home will allow to complement the physiotherapy sessions at the clinics with the execution of some exercises at home.

For Inês Sousa, Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS’ researcher, “the existing solutions are complex both in terms of hardware and software, with usability issues that decrease the technology adoption levels. Usually, despite recognizing the usefulness of these technologies, users often loose motivation to perform exercises at home, due to the complexity of use, or because of the repetitiveness nature of the exercises performed and lack of follow up. Physio@Home aims to meet this challenge”.

The smartphone or tablet will display intuitive games that will guide the user through the execution of the exercises and provide a visual feedback, increasing the ability to get a better performance. The metrics collected about the exercises during the games will be stored and made available to the physiotherapist through a web portal. The gamification of rehabilitation exercises and their deployment in ubiquitous devices, such as smartphones or tablets, in combination with wearables for movement monitoring, will enable a more engaging complement to physiotherapy sessions, and will ensure the correct execution of the exercises at home.

According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 600 million work days are lost every year in Europe due to musculoskeletal diseases. Physiotherapy is an effective treatment prescription in these various scenarios, and the compliance with the correct repetition of the exercises proposed is crucial to the success of this kind of interventions. However, due to time and cost limitations, the number of sessions is usually low as compared with the potential of recovery of the patient.