15 Oct ABLE Participates in RehabWeek 2021
ABLE Human Motion participated in RehabWeek 2021 from September 23-25, one of the most prominent international conferences in rehabilitation technology.
The goal of the conference is to foster interdisciplinary exchange and learning between clinical, scientific, and industry professionals, promoting the development of relationships and collaborations between them. RehabWeek includes keynote lectures, scientific presentations, clinical case studies, panel discussions, and poster presentations.
ABLE participated across many activities at the conference: an exhibition booth, a live demonstration of the ABLE Exoskeleton®, scientific presentations, poster sessions, and panel discussions. ABLE left a lasting impression as one of the key industrial players in rehabilitation robotics.
The highlight of the week for ABLE was their collaborative live demonstration with the European Center of Neurosciences (CEN, Madrid). In this session, ABLE’s technology was used in a live physiotherapy treatment to assist a person with a T9 complete spinal cord injury to walk. It was extremely valuable to hear insights from clinical and scientific attendees who joined the session, as well as emotional to be reminded of the significance of providing high quality therapy to patients.
During the poster sessions, collaborators and team members of ABLE Human Motion shared the work they’re doing to advance robotic rehabilitation technology.
Franziska Herzog, Katlin Kreamer-Tonin, and Antonio Rodríguez presented on diverse topics such as clinical evaluation of exoskeletons, usability and engineering design, and comparison of exoskeletons with other state-of-the-art devices. During these sessions, other conference attendees could interact with ABLE team members and have productive conversations about how to overcome challenges in the field to create better technology.
Franziska is a clinical partner from Heidelberg University Hospital, where the ABLE Exoskeleton® is currently going through a clinical trial. She described the main protocol features of this trial, which assess the safety, feasibility and usability of the ABLE Exoskeleton® in patients with SCI during a 4-6 week in-patient training program as pre-evaluation for its home use. She also discussed how although the clinical investigation is conducted according to the European Medical Device Regulation, the regulatory approval process differs substantially depending on the location of the trial. This topic was extremely valuable to other conference attendees who are interested in commercializing their own rehabilitation technology.
Katlin presented on how feedback gathered from users with a large range of injury levels has influenced the design of the ABLE Exoskeleton®. After receiving feedback that the device was too physically demanding for higher level SCI individuals, a series of developments to improve trunk support and stability were undertaken. Major changes included redesign of the hip and ankle joints to create a more natural gait pattern and make it easier to use both for therapists and SCI users. This work shows the value of involving real users during the product development cycle, and how gathering early user feedback can lead to dramatic improvements in technology to really meet their needs.
Antonio presented preliminary results of another clinical trial, which compared the use of exoskeleton technology to knee-ankle-foot-orthosis (KAFO). In response to the limitations of KAFO, wearable exoskeletons are an alternative technology for gait rehabilitation as they may augment gait efficiency, and provide safer walking compared to KAFO. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence that supports the superiority of wearable exoskeletons over KAFO, so his work aimed to demonstrate the safety, feasibility and usability of exoskeletons in this context. In addition to the poster presentation, Antonio was also invited to present this work during a lecture session of RehabWeek, leading to even more discussion between conference attendees who were interested in his results.
ABLE’s co-founder and CEO, Alfons Carnicero, was also a panelist speaker on the “Meet the Entrepreneurs” session,
sharing the stage alongside rehabilitation professionals such as Gery Colombo (founder of Hocoma), Zen Koh (founder of Fourier Intelligence), and Alexander Kollreider (founder of Tyromotion), three of the leading companies in this space. Alfons explained to the panel how his entrance to this industry was a personal one, after his father suffered a stroke. From that point on he made it his mission to work towards enabling mobility for others like his father. “I started working with only one objective in mind: understanding the problem,” says Alfons about his early days as a co-founder. “For all, for everyone, what it means is that it’s for everyone and everywhere, without marginalizing a single person. This is our long term goal.” It was an honour to be included alongside these inspiring and passionate founders who have helped to shape the rehabilitation industry, and to hear the personal stories of each of them.
The ABLE team left RehabWeek 2021 feeling motivated to keep tackling the most important challenges in rehabilitation technology, and to continue with their mission to make exoskeleton technology accessible for all.
RehabWeek provides a place for interdisciplinary discussion and problem solving across a wide range of topics in rehabilitation technology. The conference was jointly hosted by the International Consortium for Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), the International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society (IFESS), the International Industry Society in Advanced Rehabilitation Technology (IISART) and the International Society for Virtual Rehabilitation (ISVR).
During next year’s RehabWeek 2022 in Rotterdam, the ABLE team plans to unveil their latest exoskeleton model, stay tuned!