RehabSwift advancing a customised brain-computer interface for stroke recovery.
MedTech Actuator startup RehabSwift Pty Ltd is developing a personalised brain-computer interface that revives hand movement after stroke, a leading cause of long-term disability worldwide.
Leveraging the brain’s neuroplasticity, RehabSwift rewires damaged neural pathways between the brain and muscles. The technology records the electrical activity of the patient’s brain through their scalp, detects their intention to move using a novel machine learning algorithm, then transforms this captured intention into the actual movement via robotic hands.
Founder and Managing Director, Dr Sam Darvishi is driven to make a difference to people living with disability.
“I stuttered severely through my childhood and teenage years,” says Sam. “As someone who has lived with disability, I know how hard it is. I’ve always intended to use my knowledge and expertise to ease the burden of disability.”
Sam is well on his way to achieving this. In a proof of principle study, RehabSwift improved the hand motor function of a stroke survivor, who had a stroke 3.5 years prior to the study, by 36% after ten 30-minute therapy sessions.
Sam joined the MedTech Actuator in 2018 to access education and mentorship in developing RehabSwift’s commercialisation strategy. The MedTech Actuator is Asia Pacific’s MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech catalyst, supported by the REDI initiative and powered by MTPConnect.
“Thanks to the MedTech Actuator’s wealth of knowledge and expertise, we were able to establish strategy around clinical trials, product development, regulations, reimbursement, marketing, IP, finance, and go-to-market,” says Sam.
“MedTech startups are different to startups in other industries, as they need to survive with no revenue for at least few years until they reach the market. The MedTech Actuator gave us education and mentorship tailor-made for medical devices – general advice would not have been particularly useful,” says Sam.
In 2020 RehabSwift was awarded an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant of $144,590, supporting Sam to make the innovative device available to stroke survivors.
RehabSwift also received ethics approvals in 2020, and work is ongoing in product development and testing, patient screening and recruitment for clinical trials, and conducting clinical trials to continue refining the device.
“My advice for those on similar pathways is to find your why,” says Sam.
“Knowing why you do what you do can make it much easier to bear inevitable hardship. Otherwise the setbacks may be too tough to withstand.”
To learn more about RehabSwift and follow their journey, go to www.rehabswift.com.
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