Thursday, 08 July 2021 22:44

How to make the ultimate comeback from a lower leg injury with revolutionarily simple smart medical tech


Ukranian medtech startup ComeBack Mobility has raised US $1M for its "Smart Crutch Tips" - an ingeniously simple yet sophisticated piece of tech that attaches to regular crutches, and pairs with a smartphone app and web service - to heal faster from lower leg injuries than ever before.

ComeBack Mobility. It has created “Smart Crutch Tip” orthopaedic devices that work together with an app, shared by a patient and a doctor, bringing the lower limb rehabilitation industry to a whole new level.

So, why are Smart Crutch Tips revolutionary?

Well, it's because weight bearing (WB) in rehabilitation is essential for bone healing in patients with fractures and when following orthopaedic surgery, and it's well known that low-intensity weight bearing exercise has been shown to be beneficial in bone healing over non-weight bearing exercises.

The problem is, that according to studies, 6 out of 10 patients don't follow their doctor's advice during rehabilitation after their lower limb injury, which means longer healing times because patients don't know how much pressure to apply to their injured lower limb.

To completely transform this reality, ComeBack Mobility has invented the industry's first Smart Crutch Tips. They are an innovative orthopaedic device that works together with an application shared by a CBM-Patient App (on iOS/Android mobile devices) and their Doctor App (on desktop or laptop computers, and iOS/Android mobile devices).

How does it work?

We're told that Smart Crutch Tips automatically calculate the patient’s current weight bearing on the injured or surgically operated leg while the patient is walking, analyses it and immediately provides feedback to the patient and the doctor on whether any adjustments need to be done -- all in real-time.

Even better, Smart Crutch Tips fit all popular round crutch brands, with the tips set by the patient on crutches and synced via Bluetooth to smartphones.

The patient starts receiving instant feedback on their mobile device, consisting per choice of voice, sound or vibration and from the attached crutch devices per choice of light and/or sound, whether too little or too much load on the leg when they exceed or fail to meet their medical professional’s prescribed weight bearing status.

The device communicates each patient’s rehabilitation results to their physiotherapist and lets them monitor a patient’s daily activity level through the app. Ingenious!

Doctors agree, too. Michael J. Chin, DPM, the medical director of the Running Institute and Windy City Foot and Ankle Physicians LLC, evaluated Smart Crutch Tips and said: “A lot of people don't know how much pressure they're putting through their feet when they're trying to rehabilitate. You can use scales, you can use the weight of their body minus how much pressure they're putting through it. But this device gives you a kind of instantaneous feedback, which I think for rehabilitation purposes can be very helpful. I like the concept, I like the idea of being able to give feedback - obviously to the patient, but also to the clinician. You take a few steps and already it is logging the steps being taken, the pressure, the feedback. I could hear the actual vibrations so it's impressive as to how quick that response is.”

ComeBack Mobility explains that it’s not only the physical but also the psychological factor that often hinders patients in properly adhering to the correct rehabilitation process.

After surgery, nurses and physiotherapists have the responsibility to encourage the patient to participate in early ambulation.

According to the latest clinical study, “nurses are challenged by patients who are not confident enough to mobilise following a lower extremity joint surgery or fracture stabilisation. This situation leads to decreased weight bearing, which can hinder the recovery process and future mobility of the patient. If the patient does not comply, the nurse can communicate that to the physician who could provide re-education to the patient on the need to mobilise to improve recovery. The nurse could also communicate ambulation issues to the physical therapy team, who could then work with the patient to increase knowledge and confidence.” The entire process leads not only to an inferior rehabilitation process for the patient, but also to immense medical expenses, along with a greater healing time factor for both the clinician and patient.

We're told that even those patients who feel confident to start with early ambulation, often do not succeed in doing it properly because many use home scales for WB distribution.

“The static method of instruction of PWBPs (Partial Weight Bearing Protocol), using bathroom scales, does not seem to translate accurately to dynamic motion, and therefore affects adherence to medical instruction. Practitioners should be aware of the potential errors in reproducing these loads and the potential effect on rehabilitation. These results suggest that practitioners should be cautious when using bathroom scales to teach PWBPs and not rely on them to assess reproduction accuracy during gait,” according to the latest study by Physiotherapy and Sport Rehabilitation School of Health Studies at University of Bradford.

ComeBack Mobility has run a similar experiment proving that such a technique does not work. It is not possible to take even 5 steps in a row in the recommended load of +/- 10% of the patient's weight. For example, if the patient weighs 80 kg (175 lbs) and the recommended 50% of his weight equals 40 kg (88 lbs), then 10% of his weight would be 8 kg (17 lbs), correspondingly the range is 40 kg +/- 8 kg = from 32x to 48 kg (105 lbs).

By offering real-time insight on the patient’s leg load and timely feedback from the doctor, Smart Crutch Tips solve all of the concerns for both the patient and physician, solving the difficult task of partial weight distribution after lower limb injuries. Like I said before... ingenious!

What's the detail on exactly how do Smart Crutch Tips work?

  • Doctor sets the weight bearing program for duration of patient’s recovery
  • Patient adheres to the program using real-time feedback cues from Smart Crutch Tips and App. Data is sent to the patient's phone and doctor's digital dashboard
  • Doctor monitors how the patient loads the injured leg per WB restrictions, as well as how many steps they take during crutch walking
  • Doctor is alerted to and addresses patient concerns via SOS button in the App
  • Doctor adapts in real time the WB program to the patient's needs
  • Patient adjusts the axial load on the involved leg according to the doctor's instructions

Patient’s Benefits With ComeBack Mobility:

  • Learn the appropriate weight bearing level as their rehabilitation progresses
  • Stay on track with their rehabilitation by following their gait data on the digital dashboard
  • Recover at home under their doctor's remote supervision
  • Communicate their concerns with the doctor/rehabilitation professional via SOS button
  • Facilitate their recovery by decreasing possible risks of complications from overloading or under loading their surgically treated or injured leg

Another great feature is the fact that Smart Crutch Tips are infinitely re-usable, whcih is fantastic for affordability and sustainability. Once a patient has healed from their lower limb injury, the Smart Crutch Tips can be used by another patient.

ComeBack Mobility was founded by CEO Ilya Popov, following his own injury that inspired him to create such a tool. Popov raised a $1M pre-seed round through his own efforts during the lockdown by inventing a unique health technology that helps doctors rehabilitate patients remotely.

Ilya Popov is one of the leaders in the MBA space and a true entrepreneur, demonstrating a remarkable ability to turn life experiences into startups. For example, being a professional fighter, Popov launched his previous startup SmartSport for sports teams - and now, it’s an international business operating in 36 countries. In September 2017, this project became one of the best among Ukrainian start-ups and represented the Ukrainian pavilion at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. ComeBack Mobility's CTO is Lisa Voronkova, who is also a start-up veteran.

iTWire will be conducting a video interview with Australian doctors on Smart Crutch Tips soon.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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