Rehabilitation and therapeutic services have become an integral part of the healthcare industry. The need to find innovative solutions for patients suffering from various neurological, musco-skeletal problems has led to many startups offering services using the latest technology like Virtual Reality, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, etc. With COVID-19 impact, there has been a lot of strain for mainstream rehabilitation service providers and the workforce. This has created a for more home-based smart rehab solutions.
Healthcare robotic market is booming globally, and South Korea has been leading in promoting technology-driven therapeutic solutions considering the country’s substantial population is set to become super-aged by 2026. The Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare has been investing in developing care robots since 2019. The ministry had announced investing $1.1 million or 1.3 billion won for developing care robots for the elderly and disabled in 2019.
Korean startups in healthcare have been actively involved in R&D of therapeutic solutions. Large corporates like Samsung, LG, etc are also investing in rehabilitative healthcare devices and solutions startups. Koreatechdesk.com lists some promising healthcare startups using platforms and rehabilitation devices to improve the industry.
Established in 2010, Neofect has taken the therapeutic wearable devices & rehabilitation market by storm with its gamified and innovative smart rehabilitation solutions. Their products are intended to maximize cognitive, hand, arm, and leg function for stroke survivors and patients with neurological disorders through fun and functional gameplay. Its first product RAPAEL Smart Glove, combines a wearable device, virtual reality, and gamification for rehab exercises. The glove is approved for use in Asia, Europe, and the US.
The Neofect Extender helps stroke survivors rehabilitate their hands and wrists by maintaining an appropriate stretch for hand function and movement while minimizing spasticity. It also increases their grip and grasp, allowing them to pick up items needed to complete their daily tasks. Neofect’s RAPAEL Smart Board rehabilitates the patient’s shoulder and elbow joints, improving their functional arm reaching ability. It enhances the shoulder and elbow’s control ability and joint movement range. Other rehabilitation products by the startup include Neofect Smart Balance, Neofect cognition, and RAPHAEL Smart Glove.
Nunaps is Korea’s first digital therapeutics company using AI to address neurological disorders. The startup secured $4.2 million for its first VR therapeutics clinical trial for helping people with brain damage and vision loss. Its also evaluating its first product, Nunap Vision, which gives perception training through a VR headset to treat visual field problems caused by strokes and brain damage. Nunaps plans to become the leading digital therapeutics company through develop pipelines to treat various brain disorders.
Korean startup H Robotics develops robot rehabilitation solutions that provide essential services to patients from their homes’ comfort. Their home rehabilitation devices and remote rehabilitation services to treat patients with musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. Their premier product Rebless is a home rehabilitation robot device and remote rehabilitation service for patients with both conditions. Rebless aids in the recovery and growth of the elbow, wrist, ankle, knee joint muscles, and rehabilitation patients’ nervous system.
In exercise assist mode, Rebless moves smoothly based on the patient’s resistance or assistance movements while capturing rehabilitation data based on the patient’s movement. The data is sent to qualified physicians who analyze it and give recommendations through the device’s inbuilt medical treatment function.
Exosystems offers Exo-Rehab, a next-generation rehabilitation device for patients needing musculoskeletal training for their knee joint muscles. The device uses gamified and personalized gaming content to make the recovery process more fun for the patients while providing therapeutic neuromuscular electrical stimulation to the affected region. Exo-Rehab uses NEMS to monitor muscle recovery and growth and provides a comprehensive rehabilitation program based on the patient data collected and doctor’s recommendation.
Korean startup ExoAtlet specializes in creating rehabilitative robots to raise the standard of living for disabled individuals. They introduced their rehabilitative exoskeleton robot that enables disabled individuals to walk. The gadget targets people with spinal cord injuries and have lost partial or full use of their lower limbs by adjusting the pelvic depth and width, thigh length, calf length, foot size, etc. Although the robot weighs 23 kgs, it’s designed to balance the patient’s load only to feel a weight of 2kgs. It can carry patients weighing up to 100kgs and comes in 8 different walking modes and three walking speeds customized based on their size. When fully charged, the exoskeleton robot can be used continuously for eight hours before being recharged.
6. Angel Robotics
The startup that was set up in February 2017 has developed wearable robots to help people with disabilities, the paraplegics and the elderly, get up, walk & live a normal life. Angel Robotics has developed products like Angel suit, Angel Leg and Walkon Suit using robotics technology. The lightweight wearable robots by the startup can be used by the elderly, disabled, children with disabilities, and those recovering from neurological disorders as well.
Angel Robotics, which is Spin-off at Sogang University Robot System Control Laboratory has signed a technical cooperation MOU with LG Electronics and has attracted attention in the world market based on their unique technologies and talents. The team of Angel Robotics won the CYBATHLON 2020 Global Edition in which 51 teams from 20 countries participated, completing everyday tasks with the help of state- of-the-art assistance systems.
7. Olive Healthcare
Olive Healthcare is a healthcare startup developing medical and wellness products. The startup leverages non-radiative & non-invasive NIR (Near Infra-Red) technology, artificial intelligence algorithm, and big data processing for personalized service. Its first product Bello is the one-stop solution for measurement to care for belly fat. The app scans your belly fat and recommends diet and fitness regimes that tailor your body and help you prevent metabolic diseases. The app gained FDA approval for use in the US in 2019. The startup also offers Origo rehabilitation software for breast cancer patients.
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