New prospects for „Reha at Home“

Successful completion: use of a promising system of technical rehab support for stroke patients has been tested as part of the MISTRAAL project.

Rehabilitation following a stroke is a lengthy process. For patients, the journey back to a normal life does not end with their discharge from an in-patient rehab facility. They should continue to do regular exercises at home. However, from the moment of discharge, medical staff no longer have any control over how effectively the rehab is continued at home. The goal of the MISTRAAL research project, which was concluded successfully in summer, was to develop and test a technical system that promotes rehabilitation at home and in so doing encourages patients to remain mobile.

Screenshot Reha@Home Screenshot Reha@Home Screenshot Reha@Home

Screenshots of the MISTRAAL-App for tablets

The eSHOE gait analysis system was used. This system had been developed as part of a predecessor project and enhanced to turn it into a Reha@Home system for MISTRAAL. This mobile insole is capable of collecting and forwarding gait data from the wearer. As part of the project funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) (no. 840716), a clinical pilot study was conducted at the neurological rehabilitation center NRZ Rosenhügel. The project was run by the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at the Medical University of Vienna; the company a3L e-solutions was also on board as a further partner.

The first part of the study was conducted with 30 test subjects and 30 stroke patients at NRZ Rosenhügel. They completed a series of measurements with the clinical gait analysis system in use there and the Reha@Home system. There was also an assessment test at the rehab facility using the eSHOE insole. Five of the patients subsequently tested the technology at home. They were equipped with this “smart” insole and with a tablet PC where a specific MISTRAAL app was installed. This system was connected to a server to create a Reha@Home system.


Overview: patients, server and therapists side of view

The app delivered user-friendly feedback on the rehab exercises that was easy to understand. At the same time, the gait analysis measurements were transferred from the insole to the tablet and forwarded from there to a server. Medical experts also had access to the data on the server. They were able to check how the exercises were progressing and to make any necessary changes to the exercise program. The app also enabled direct communication between patients and therapists. There was also an interactive game in which patients were encouraged to “pick apples”, which was intended to increase their motivation to do the exercises.

This “Reha at Home” environment gives some indication of how patients on a broad scale may be supported in their rehab exercises in the not too distant future. “The system was well received by patients,” says Veronika David, MSc, from the project team at UAS Technikum Wien. “We have obviously discovered a number of possible improvements, but on the whole there was a clear increase in motivation to do the exercises.” In terms of the measurements, good results have already been obtained there as well. And the findings made will not remain tucked away in a drawer: Technology used in MISTRAAL is already being used again in the current REHABitation project at UAS Technikum Wien.