Little by little, yes virtual reality settled in the world of medicine. Whether it is to train and train practitioners, to relax patients and reduce their anxiety, to help them reduce their medication consumption or to support them in their rehabilitation, many solutions have emerged over the years The last. This is the case of abilitylaunched in 2021 for physiotherapists, occupational therapists and doctors specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Meeting at the hackathon
It all started when Berengere Henrion AND Marie Odile McKeeney were still engineering students at EPF. They met in 2018, on the occasion of a hackathon . They had 24 hours to find one innovation in the service of disability. During the event, they met Anne-Catherine Guenier, president ofassociations Hémiparésie and his son Léandre. The latter is affected by this disorder related to a malfunction of the central nervous system that results in the reduction of the motor skills of a part of his body.
“The rehabilitation he was going through is repetitive and not very motivating for a teenager,” says Bérengère Henrion. So, since he was drawn to everything that revolves around video games, we had himidea to introduce virtual reality into his exercises. »
The approach pleased Anne-Catherine Guenier and the hackathon jury, who awarded the two students’ project an honorable third place. The following year, they won a favorite award call for projects and chap subsidies . “Everything encouraged us to get serious. So, at the end of our studies in 2020, we produced the first prototypes and created H’ability in February 2021”, continues Bérengère Henrion. The region and ARS Grand Est support them as wellAccelerator Scale’E-nov AND Bpifrance. “To finance the first stages of our development, we were able to count on one Bank loan », adds the co-founder and CEO of H’ability.
Motor and cognitive rehabilitation
With the help of health professionals and two virtual reality developers recruited in-house, the Troyes company has developed a total of fifteen fun programs aimed at improving the motor and cognitive rehabilitation of patients who have had strokes, head trauma or upper limb injuries.
“Some games revolve around SPORTSand more specifically football, basketball and boxing, others are inspired by everyday activities such as the supermarket and the food, and still others are more unusual with rocket piloting or a game where you have to catch fireworks. We have also developed exercises based on mirror therapy, to trick the brain in the motor part”, explains Bérengère Henrion.
Thanks to the game introduced by virtual reality, patients are immersed in stimulating interactive environments that complement the classic exercises of healthcare professionals. “We can work in amplitudes, balance and immerse the patient in a daily situation such as shopping, which without virtual reality is not possible in a medical office”, continues the manager.
The next step: telerehabilitation
Capability solutions are aimed directly at healthcare professionals specializing in rehabilitation. To use them, they need to get the right equipment: portable headsets recommended by the start-up and digital support that allow them to access the H’ability management platform, from which they can configure and launch personalized sessions. “Everything is designed to make it easier to get started with the solution and to allow professionals and their patients to get started in less than three minutes,” says Bérengère Henrion.
Five healthcare institutions currently use this solution, including the University Hospital of Angers and the Pasteur rehabilitation center in Troyes, as well as around forty rehabilitation professionals. H’ability offers them several offers, from a one-year trial with equipment rental to the purchase of the headset and the provision of software for 1 to 3 years.
The next step: expand the BtoB offering to BtoBtoC by reaching directly into patients’ homes. “We want to transform into a telerehabilitation tool, so that the patient can continue to exercise at home, always with remote medical monitoring. This would increase rehabilitation time by freeing up medical time. With our light and mobile device, it is quite possible”, explains Bérengère Henrion.
The beginning, which hires four peopleis preparing its first fundraising for the first half of 2023.