BITS Gaming tech brings healthspan hope to stroke sufferers

The after-effects of a stroke can be devastating – Bioness Therapy has developed BITS to overcome them.

According to the National Stroke Association, only 10% of stroke victims achieve near-total or total recovery. With 25% of victims recovering, but left suffering minor impairments [1], this means there are a high number of people who live the balance of their lives coping with debilitating stroke after-effects.

Now Bioness Therapy has developed BITS (Bioness Integrated Therapy System), a range of treatment programs that use virtual reality and a range of other stimuli to help patients’ brains repair their neural networks, restructuring the pathways damaged by the stroke.
Longevity.Technology: Research in this area brings the hope of improved recovery for millions of stroke victims and this, coupled with Bioness’ neuro-modulation product specifically designed to treat chronic peripheral nerve pain – the StimRouter – mean that we think this is a company to keep an eye on.

The TRL score for this Longevity.Technology domain is currently set at: ‘Technology completes secondary trials and provides further evidence for safety and efficacy.’
TRL7 orange
The TRL score for the technology addressed in this article is: ‘Late proof of concept demonstrated in real-life conditions.

BITS works by assessing the physical, visual, auditory and cognitive abilities of patients and then improve function by various physical and cognitive exercises based around visuomotor co-ordination, reaction time, visuospatial perception, visual and auditory processing, working memory and physical endurance [2]. BITS also feeds-back to clinicians by providing benchmarking and detailed reports. This instant data means practitioners can tailor programs to individual patients’ needs, modifying for ability on a case-by-case basis.

Debra Ouellette, Occupational Therapist and Clinical Co-ordinator at Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare in the USA said: “With BITS Bedside & Mobile, patients are able to begin innovative, interactive therapies much earlier than they would have otherwise … Research supports initiation of therapy early in patient recovery and the BITS allows for a more engaging approach to motor, cognitive and visual therapies bedside [2].”

Using virtual reality technology means that multiple therapies can be delivered at once; a program that addresses spatial awareness can also test balance and peripheral vision, for example. The user interface and the visual display are the same piece of technology and this means the patient is able to directly map their VR experience onto the real world, allowing for faster recovery.

We like these techniques as they represent techniques that could also be applied to later-life users who aren’t stroke sufferers but need to main good cognitive health.

Research has indicated that virtual reality programs can give improved functional mobility and better balancing ability [3] as well as maximising arm, hand and finger function [4]. The VR therapy of BITS provides intensive motor-sensory stimulation, meaning that neural pathways rebuild faster and more effectively [5].

BITS has the benefit of being engaging too, meaning that the patient is more engaged, completing more exercises and shortening recovery time. Brain Rosenberg, a physical therapist at Bioness, agrees: “When you compare yesterday’s rehab to today’s technology, it’s evident that patients are more engaged in their outcomes [6].”

Bioness has already developed electronic devices that help stroke patients walk and move their hands again [7].

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