Robot-Assisted Rehab Projected Value at $6.5 billion by 2025 – Will You Be Left Out?

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Clinical and Scientific Affairs

Robotics are exploding in use and transforming the stroke rehab landscape, creating cost-efficient solutions for state-of-the-art rehab.

In less than a decade, robotic technologies are expected to dominate the rehabilitation industry, according to expert analysts. As of 2018, the market share for robotics companies was $641 million; analysts estimate the total market share of robotic rehab companies to reach nearly $6.5 billion by 2025.1

The need for robots

There are numerous reasons for this phenomenon. One of the primary drivers for robotic innovation is the fact that the number of people needing rehabilitation therapy is going to increase dramatically over the next decade. Aging populations and medical advancements mean more people are surviving stroke and other neurological diseases and living longer; these people are going to need quality care. However, the numbers of occupational and physical therapists are not growing proportionately to the increased need. The result is that patients receive far too little quality, active therapy that is needed for them to recover optimally post-event.

This disparity is why the rehabilitation medicine industry is quickly turning to robotics. Robots can provide high-repetition, high-intensity rehab without causing physical strain or burnout to therapists.

Primary Benefits

Apart from reducing the burden on overworked physiotherapists and occupational therapists, robotic rehabilitation is shown to improve upon conventional methods of care in several ways. Researchers who study the efficacy and future of robotic therapy have noted the possibility to contribute to all four aspects of therapy work:

  1. Assessment throughout all stages of intervention,
  2. Providing intervention with adequate repetitions and consistency,
  3. Providing limb or body movement assistance or resistance, depending on the need,
  4. Providing real-time specific feedback to patients and therapists.2

Future and Innovative Rehabilitation Trends

Technological rehabilitation has great untapped potential and substantial room for growth as this technology permeates more areas of therapy. Some of these new areas ripe for expansion are cited by market experts, and include:

  • Assisted gait technologies – one of the most exciting advantages of robotic rehabilitation is the ability to progressively load a patient’s legs with gradually increasing amounts of their own body weight. This therapy is also helpful in very early stages of rehabilitation to get patients literally back on their feet again.3
  • Exoskeletons – a type of assisted gait technology designed to empower those who have lost their ability to walk. Exoskeletons allow patients to improve their mobility and stability through re-training the complex mechanical patterns involved in locomotion.4
  • Home care – one goal of therapy is to help a patient regain his or her independence; in-home technology is an effective and efficient way of assisting a patient with activities of daily living, but also allows patients to independently perform frequent therapy sessions with the intensity they require for ongoing rehabilitation.5,6
  • Wearable sensors – patients are encouraged to wear monitoring devices that can assist in the diagnosis and treatment of various cardiovascular, pulmonary and neurological diseases. For example, wearable sensors can alert medical staff of dangerous falls or other physiological changes that would otherwise go undetected at home or in the community.8
  • Virtual reality – the development of virtual reality (interactive video gaming) can be beneficial for patients to improve their function. Virtual reality involves fully immersing patients in a “natural” setting and encouraging them to perform typical daily tasks, but on a computer interface.9
  • Rehabilitation apps – particularly for stroke patients, using rehabilitation apps on mobile phones, computer interfaces or tablets can be extremely positive for recovery. Such apps can help medical professionals determine specific cognitive deficits in stroke patients and how to improve them.10 

Cost-effectiveness

While at first glance these therapies seem to be a significant investment, the gains in efficiency outweigh the initial cost of these devices. Robotic rehabilitation is less costly than the equivalent performed by a human, but additional substantial savings accumulate when efficient, effective rehab can help patients quickly regain function and return home. These advancements reduce costs for inpatient care, medications, long-term care, in addition to savings due to fewer overall rehabilitation sessions long-term. Advancements in post-stroke or injury rehabilitation can also reduce the costs involved with loss of mobility, autonomy, and independence in daily activities, as well as mental health costs.7 Developers are constantly working not only to provide the most advanced technology, but also the most cost-effective solutions to help the millions of people who need therapy for neurological and physical rehabilitation.

References:

1 PR Newswire. Global Rehabilitation Robots Market Shares, Strategy, and Forecoast Report 2019: Market Size at 641 Million in 2018 and is Expected to Grow Dramatically to Reach $6.4 Billion by 2025. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-rehabilitation-robots-market-shares-strategy-and-forecasts-report-2019-market-size-at-641-million-in-2018-and-is-expected-to-grow-dramatically-to-reach-6-4-billion-by-2025–300813189.html
2 Laut J, Porfiri M, Raghavan P. The Present and Future of Robotic Technology in Rehabilitation. Curr Phys Med Rehabil Rep. 2016;4(4):312–319. doi:10.1007/s40141-016-0139-0
3 Mehrholz, J., S. Thomas, C. Werner, J. Kugler, M. Pohl and B. Elsner (2017). “Electromechanical-Assisted Training for Walking after Stroke (Update).” Cochrane Database Syst Rev 5: Cd006185.
4 Gorgey AS. Robotic exoskeletons: The current pros and cons. World J Orthop. 2018;9(9):112–119. Published 2018 Sep 18. doi:10.5312/wjo.v9.i9.112
5 Yakub F, Md Khudzari AZ, Mori Y. Recent trends for practical rehabilitation robotics, current challenges and the future. Int J Rehabil Res. 2014 Mar;37(1):9-21. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0000000000000035. PubMed PMID: 24126254.
6 Johnson MJ, Feng X, Johnson LM, Winters JM. Potential of a suite of robot/computer-assisted motivating systems for personalized, home-based, stroke rehabilitation. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2007;4:6. Published 2007 Mar 1. doi:10.1186/1743-0003-4-6
7 Laut J, Porfiri M, Raghavan P. The Present and Future of Robotic Technology in Rehabilitation. Curr Phys Med Rehabil Rep. 2016;4(4):312–319. doi:10.1007/s40141-016-0139-0
8 Patel, S, Park, H, Bonato, P, et al. A review of wearable sensors and systems with application in rehabilitation. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation. 2012; 9(21).
9 Laver, K, Lange, B, George, S, et al. Virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017(11:CD008349). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008349.pub4.
10 Oliveira, J, Gamito, P, Morais, D, et al. Cognitive Assessment of Stroke Patients with Mobile Apps: A Controlled Study. Annual Review of Cybertherapy and Telemedicine. 2014. doi:10.3233/978-1-61499-401-5-103.

Originally published on 15.4.2020

Want to know more? For more information on how robotic-assisted rehabilitation is changing medicine, download our pdf: 5 Reasons Technology is the Future of Rehab Medicine.

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