Pioneering new health tech combines physiotherapy with gaming

20 June 2017

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Pioneering new health tech combines physiotherapy with gaming  

According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 280,000 people every year across the UK are admitted to A&E after a fall, costing the NHS £1.5 billion annually. They also suggest that if everyone 65+ at risk of falling was referred to physiotherapy, 160,000 falls could be prevented, saving the NHS £250 million each year. 

But could this physiotherapy be undertaken in the home? One pioneering health tech organisation being trialled by the NHS, MIRA Rehab, believes so. 

MIRA is a software application transforming traditional physiotherapy exercises into animated character video games, making therapy engaging and easier to follow, with main target conditions including arthritis, stroke, and arm and shoulder fractures. 

Used via TV screen or monitor, the games are currently being utilised by physiotherapists at 60 clinics and being played by over 650 patients. The patient’s performance data is tracked; storing repetitions to gauge movement improvement or detecting issues for therapists to adapt treatment accordingly. 

MIRA is the brainchild of a then student team, coming up with the concept while still at college in 2011. The idea was inspired by a conversation about the difficulties friends and family had experienced with physiotherapy, and from this MIRA emerged; combining physiotherapy with game-playing; creating what are known as ‘Exergames’ that can be enjoyed by patients of all ages, including older people. 

From mobility scooter to driving again

One patient who has benefited from MIRA Rehab is 84-year-old Beryl Fenby from Manchester, who after two hip replacements and several knee operations was finding she could only walk by bending double and using a kitchen trolley or even an outdoor mobility scooter, indoors. Having always been an independent person; holding down a job as well as bringing up three sons, it made Beryl anxious, losing her independence and struggling to keep moving. 

Beryl was introduced to MIRA Rehab Exergames through a trial run by the University of Manchester. Although sceptical at first, Beryl began to feel the benefits: her mobility and balance improved through a series of cartoon games designed for older people to play. Since following the programme, Beryl has regained independence and the ability to move freely around the house; to the extent that she is able to drive her car again!

Benefits of being a winner of the AXA PPP Health Tech Awards

Since winning The Health Tech & Age category in this year’s AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards, awareness of MIRA has increased and leveraging the award has been very beneficial when presenting the innovation to prospective clients and collaborators.

“We have been delighted to see several people get in contact to ask more about MIRA and its potential,” says Cosmin Mihaiu, CEO of MIRA. “It’s an amazing feeling to be recognised for the work that we’ve done and the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards has not only raised awareness for our product, but has also inspired us to do more, to help as many people as possible actually enjoy their physical treatment plans.”