10 FEBRUARY 2020
Inspired by helping his 94-year-old grandmother recover from a stroke, Rowan Smith wanted to improve the process. He went on to create Tech Gym, a robotic arm that helps stroke patients to carry out exercises with only minimal supervision.
Having seen firsthand the struggles of rehabilitation for his grandmother and her therapists, Rowan knew that there was an opportunity to improve the lives of others.
His grandmother was only receiving 20 minutes of therapy, three days a week, instead of the clinically recommended three hours per day.
“It takes between 20,000 to 30,000 repetitions of a movement for the brain to form a new neural connection to that muscle. This equates to a recommended three hours of rehabilitation with a therapist per day,” explains Rowan.
The increasing number of stroke patients due to an ageing population makes this difficult, as therapists often help up to six patients at once.
For patients, this lack of access is a key contributor to their lack of motivation towards their therapy. But Tech Gym is set to turn this around.
Therapists use the Tech Gym device by placing the patient’s affected upper limb onto the robot. The robot then intelligently provides active assistance to perform a range of exercises, from the start to the end of the patient’s hospital rehabilitation.
“Our technology requires only minimal supervision to provide therapy exercises, allowing more patients access to their therapy needs and alleviating pressure to therapists,” says Rowan.
“Our custom-built rehab games simulate real life activities that motivate patients to perform the correct exercises. This assists patients to regain their independence and prepare to return home.”
Tech Gym also automates the reporting process and tracks the patient’s functional progress, saving therapists precious time.
From a young age, Rowan has enjoyed building and constructing projects.
“This project not only lets me do that, but every day I meet people whose lives will be positively impacted by using my technology. Knowing that I can improve even one person’s life motivates me to pursue this dream,” says Rowan.
Rowan joined The Accelerator in 2019 to improve his skills as a leader and entrepreneur, and to take a product idea to market.
Delivered by the MedTech Actuator, the 15-month, industry-led, venture backed program aggressively funds and accelerates early-stage MedTech startups. The MedTech Actuator works alongside venture capital partner Artesian to support startups.
Rowan says that The Accelerator has introduced him to experts who have helped Tech Gym to grow.
“The program connects early stage startups with industry to assist in commercialisation and mentors that give advice and insights on growing a business.”
“If you are starting a MedTech startup, it is likely that there will be many topics that you are inexperienced in,” says Rowan.
“Do not fear this or let it shake your confidence. Let it fuel you to take this opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge. Yes, there are many hoops to jump through when creating a medical device, but the amount of knowledge you will learn and new skills you will develop is never ending.”
To learn more about Tech Gym and follow them on their journey, go to www.techgym.com.au.
Do you have a MedTech prototype to improve or save lives? Apply now for the MedTech Actuator Accelerator Program!