Through BiOK!, Bizkaia’s innovation ecosystem, and within the framework of the Nagusi Intelligence Center, both of which are part of the Provincial Council
The company that won the challenge will pilot a telerehabilitation platform that, by applying a computer vision algorithm, assists and guides users in real time while they perform individualised exercises.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia manifests itself in difficulty chewing and swallowing both solid and liquid foods. This disorder is highly prevalent among the elderly.
Trak is the winning company in the open innovation challenge launched by Beaz and IMQ Igurco as part of the BIOK! programme. Its proposal to reduce the risks derived from dysphagia convinced the jury both for its approach and for the technological innovation involved.
Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing liquids and solids is a prevalent condition among the elderly, hence this BIOK! challenge is part of the Nagusi Intelligence Center, a strategic project in Bizkaia that seeks to transform the challenge of ageing into an opportunity for economic and social development.
The next stage of the BIOk! challenge will be the development of a pilot project over the next 6 months that will enable the results of the solution proposed by Trak to be seen.
Digital physiotherapy thanks to artificial intelligence
The solution of this startup expert in digital rehabilitation and patient monitoring using artificial intelligence (AI) consists of a digital physiotherapy application for prescribing therapeutic exercise treatments to patients and monitoring their treatment remotely.
Through an artificial intelligence algorithm and using only the camera of a mobile device or laptop, the platform detects the movements made by the patient in each exercise to offer corrections in real time. In addition, the healthcare professional can create personalised exercise protocols in less than a minute and monitor the patient’s evolution with exercise metrics.
Dysphagia, a very prevalent condition among the elderly
As Dr. Naiara Fernández, geriatrician and Care Director of IMQ Igurco, explains, “dysphagia is a prevalent condition among the elderly people we treat, which in many cases is associated with a neurodegenerative disease, as well as conditions such as malnutrition and sarcopenia (loss of muscle capacity). With this challenge we were looking for a solution to actively intervene beyond adjusting the texture of liquids or the consistency of food. We hope that neuromuscular intervention will improve swallowing in the elderly people we treat, prevent respiratory infections related to involuntary aspiration and improve their nutritional status“.
The geriatrician values positively the development of “a proposal for telematic intervention coordinated by speech therapy and physiotherapy professionals which, with the help of artificial intelligence, allows individualised exercises to be carried out with corrections in real time to guarantee the greatest effectiveness of the treatment“.
This application “also includes techniques based on gamification, i.e. the use of techniques or dynamics of games to, among other objectives, encourage therapeutic compliance and, therefore, progress in improving the quality of life of older people with dysphagia“.
Innovation ecosystem and public-private collaboration
Jon Vital, CEO of Trak, says he is “enthusiastic” about the project: “The simple fact of working with renowned institutions such as IMQ Igurco and BEAZ is already a source of great pride for us. This is progress. When institutions of various kinds, both public and private, put their resources at the service of patients and the evolution of such an important aspect of society as healthcare“.
Olatz Goitia, director of Beaz, insists on this, recalling that “the aim of BIOK! is to connect the leading companies in Bizkaia with the innovation ecosystem, through open innovation challenges. At Beaz, we are convinced that collaboration is a key resource for facing the transformations in which we are immersed, including the ageing of the population“.
Aware of the role of therapeutic exercise in the rehabilitation of various pathologies, the Trak team has perfected its platform “so that it is fully adaptable to any patient profile, from those suffering from dysphagia to those who need to recover from a cardiac pathology“, Vital points out.
Innovation for person-centred care
In the words of Olatz Alonso, Head of Innovation at IMQ Igurco, the solution proposed by Trak “offers a personalised intervention through artificial intelligence, facilitating a faster and safer rehabilitation process for each user. The future is to continue advancing in person-centred care and this solution is another step towards achieving this approach. The application of artificial intelligence to improve the quality of life of the elderly is a reality. We are delighted to be pioneers in applying it to such a prevalent condition as dysphagia“.
“We are looking forward to piloting such an innovative project in our healthcare centres and to continue working to improve the quality of life of the elderly with the help of technology and innovation” he says.
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About Grupo IMQ:
This is a private Basque healthcare, social-health and insurance group with 86 years of experience, which includes the most extensive network of hospitals, clinics and private healthcare centres in the Basque Country, with a medical staff of more than 1,800 professionals and 2,400 clinics in all specialities. It also manages retirement homes and day centres for the elderly and provides occupational health and safety services. In addition, it provides a wide range of insurance products (dental, health, death, accident, dependency, business and self-employed insurance, etc.), from which to choose according to each individual need.