Transforming the Way that Patients Recover from Surgery or Injury with At-home, Virtual Physical Therapy
Each year, approximately 30% of adults ages 65 years and older fall, and 20-30% of those falls result in serious injury. For community-dwelling older adults, exercise that improves leg strength and balance is one of the most effective interventions to prevent a fall. However, only few evidence-based exercise programs proven effective at improving strength and reducing falls are available to the public. Reflexion Health, a digital healthcare company based in San Diego, developed an FDA-cleared Virtual Exercise Rehabilitation Assistant (VERA™) that partners with clinicians to bring physical therapy into the home and give clinicians tools to remotely monitor patient progress beyond the traditional in-clinic setting. Older adults who use VERA™ have the convenience of completing physical therapy in the comfort of their home environment, at a time that works best for them.
VERA™ is currently being implemented in various adult living communities and assisted living facilities including Greensboro Orthopedics in North Carolina, Brooks Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, Florida, WEST Living Assisted Living Facility, Elk Grove, California and Los Angeles Jewish Home facilities located throughout Los Angeles, California. VERA™ is also in clinical studies at a number of academic medical centers across the United States.
Getting Started with CDC SBIR Funding
Reflexion Health was founded in 2012 under the banner of the West Health Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group dedicated to helping
people successfully age in place without sacrificing dignity, quality of life or independence. Reflexion Health wanted to use sensor technology to better understand what patients were doing at home for physical therapy and determine if this technology would be useful for elderly fall prevention. “One of our consultants at the time was familiar with SBIR and suggested we look into seed funding as a mechanism to develop our technology,” says Anang Chokshi, Chief Clinical Officer at Reflexion Health.
In 2013, Reflexion Health received its first Phase I SBIR award from CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), which provided funding to use Kinect 3-D motion camera technology to develop an evidence-based exercise program to improve strength and balance in the home environment as part of physical therapy. The prototype contained 2 different “falls” risk factors based on CDC’s STEADI Tool and a representative group of 21 exercises from an evidence-based fall prevention program. Reflexion Health research results proved to be very promising and in 2015 they were awarded a SBIR Phase II grant to build, test, and validate a fully functioning product that would interact with older adults in community centers and home settings. Initial data from the CDC funded SBIR research shows that VERA™ improves compliance and saves time, steps and costs in post-acute care rehabilitation. Older adult users showed improvements over time in how well they could perform prescribed exercises – translating into a significant reduction of older adult fall risk. The exercises were accessible by both men and women, and by individuals from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and individuals with a range of cognitive abilities.
Commercial Success with VERA™
Reflexion Health actively pursued commercialization objectives resulting from their Phase I and Phase II research and development activities. In 2015, Reflexion Health received FDA 510(k) clearance for VERA™. In 2018, Reflexion Health announced it had entered into an agreement with the nonprofit organization Los Angeles Jewish Home (LAJH) to bring the “Stand Tall” Fall Prevention Program to seniors in the Home’s in-residence facilities located throughout Los Angeles. In the same year, Reflexion Health entered into an agreement with Greensboro Orthopaedics to use VERA™, as part of Greensboro’s postoperative rehabilitation offering for total-joint replacement patients.
Here’s a video of the VERA™system being used by Brooks Rehabilitation, a medical rehab center in Jacksonville, Florida.
Location: San Diego, CA
Amanda Guisbond, Vice President
Canale Communications Inc.
Debby Clark, VP, Marketing
This research was supported by CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control SBIR awards 1R43CE002343-01 and 2-R44CE002343-02. More information on the project can be found here: https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/1065051external icon.
Contact the CDC Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program within the Office of Technology & Innovation at SBIR@CDC.gov or 404-718-1386.