Science / Technology
Brain Stimulation uses gamification to improve rehabilitation for stroke patients
Founder Helena Fordell tells how the technology can potentially also help post-covid patients soon.
4 Jan 2022

There is a lack of resources in healthcare worldwide and Covid has made the situation urgent. Can the increased use of digitilized healthcare make it better?

Neurologist Helena Fordell is passionate about how to use research in neuroscience to create innovative solutions to improve effectiveness in neuro-rehabilitation through effective motivation training. According to her, using digital meetings is still a new way to work within rehabilitation — but the change is coming.

— The patients seem to accept and appreciate how easy and effective it is and it gives more people access to the rehabilitation they need without tiring travelling. Home is where people want to be, so let’s deliver evidence-based, fun, motivating, and individualized self-training to them.

Some ten years ago, she founded Brain Stimulation, a spinoff from research at Umeå University Clinical Neuroscience. Now an SME, the company works with neurorehabilitation, combining the great breakthrough about brain plasticity and the latest technology — behavioural interventions to improve cognitively and hand motor function, independence, and life quality. 

— Our individualized training program RehAtt, Fordell tells, can be performed at home with the support of therapists and also as self-training with therapist support directly to the wearable smart glasses by built-in telemedicine solutions.

Brain Stimulation uses Hololens 2, Microsoft’s new smart glasses and technical communication platform.

— It is wearables, robust, easy to use, and safe. We’ve found that the chances to improve effect from the training to a transfer to a true improved effect in daily life activity from this mobile training solution is simply the best. The, almost magical, motivation effect from individualized training programs and the monitoring of performance within the training tasks are great. This comes from gesture or gaze controlled interactive 3D hologram with visual and hearing effects, where different training scenarios and useful tasks are attached in the room to maintain the motivation to continue the training. The real environment is seen simultaneously as hologram tasks are attached to the real environment and that Mixed Reality gives a fantastic ”wow” effect compared to Virtual Reality.

This way of ”gamifying rehabilitation”, why is it better than other methods for, for instance, stroke patients?

— It is a natural way to stimulate the learning process in the brain with a high number of repetitions and an enriched environment, known to stimulate brain plasticity and be effective to restore function as an ad on to learning compensation strategies.

Brain Stimulation collaborates with leading experts in the field of Neurorehabilitation and Neuroscience at universities and university clinics in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, and the UK. Lately, they’ve been invited for collaborations at Harvard University Stroke Rehabilitation and Kessler Foundation in the US.

— We also have partners in the big northern region of Sweden and have initiated use and collaborations at 10 hospitals and clinics in Sweden, with more to come. It seems like we are doing the right thing, since all our visited rehabilitation centers, as well as private rehabilitation companies, have been interested to start to use our method and related products.

I also read that your technology can help post-covid patients. In what way?

— We are looking into that and will soon be able to deliver tailored training for the specific neurological problems they struggle with, and, in collaboration with scientific partners, validate the effect.

What else do you have coming?

— Music therapy has proved to be effective to improve function from many different functional impairments due to neurological conditions. It also affects mood and attention. We will continue to develop training that combines music therapy with cognitive and physio training together with music therapists and musicians.