Stroke is a devastating life event that often results in permanent disability, in particular, reduced motor control capability or, in severe cases, a complete absence of muscular function. Almost 1 million people suffer a stroke in Europe every year, with 20% of these suffering from drop foot, which significantly reduces their ability to walk.
However, nerve conductivity and the excitability of the muscles remain. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) technology applies electrical pulses to the peripheral nervous system to cause muscular contractions in a coordinated way and thus activate the muscle, improving movement, reducing pain, reducing spasticity, preventing atrophy and improving gait speed.
Current FES technology, despite the fact that it has been used for 50 years, is still relatively rudimentary. It needs to be supervised by a trained health care professional with knowledge of FES and anatomy. The setup process is manual and slow, as the electrodes need to be placed very precisely in order to achieve a specific movement. Pre-configured placement strategies are also not effective as the optimal position of that same electrode varies by 2-3 cm a day and can vary through the day due to the amount of water content of the muscle. Current systems cannot automatically adapt, and therefore must be fitted by a healthcare worker.
Fesia Technology have developed WalkHome, a FES rehabilitation device for drop foot patients which can be administered by the patient in their own home. This not only reduces costs significantly (approximately 43%) but also means patients can have an optimal treatment plan, wearing the device for several hours, thereby improving their speed of recovery, while also allowing them to live more independent lives.
At Inveniam, we supported Fesia to apply for the Phase I of the SME Instrument, which was financed, on its first submission, in the February deadline. We are currently supporting Fesia to implement the Phase I, verifying the feasibility of bringing WalkHome to the market and identifying the appropriate roadmap to commercialisation.