Virtual reality: with H’ability, augmented rehabilitation

Little by little, the virtual reality established itself in the medical world. Whether it is to coach and train practitioners, relax patients and reduce their anxiety, help them reduce their consumption of medication or support them in their rehabilitation, many solutions have emerged in recent years. 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 the EPF. They met in 2018, on the occasion of a hackathon . They had 24 hours to find a innovation in the service of disability. During the event, they met Anne-Catherine Guenier, president of theassociation Hémiparésie, and his son Léandre. The latter is affected by this disorder linked to a dysfunction of the central nervous system resulting in the reduction of the motor skills of a part of his body.

“The rehabilitation he was undergoing is repetitive and not very motivating for a teenager,” says Bérengère Henrion. So, as he was drawn to everything that revolves around video games, we had theidea to introduce virtual reality into its exercises. »

The approach appealed to Anne-Catherine Guenier and the hackathon jury, which awarded an honorable third place to the project of the two students. The following year, they won the favorite prize of a call for projects and grab 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 well as theScale’E-nov accelerator and Bpifrance. “To finance the first phases of our development, we were also able to count on a 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 intended to improve the motor and cognitive rehabilitation of patients who have had strokes, head trauma or injuries. to upper limbs.

Marie-Odile McKeeney (left) and Bérengère Henrion (right), the co-founders of the start-up H’ability.
– H’ability

“Some games revolve around the sportand 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 in which you have to catch fireflies. We have also developed exercises based on mirror therapy, to deceive the brain on the motor part,” explains Bérengère Henrion.

Thanks to the game introduced by virtual reality, patients are immersed in stimulating interactive environments, which complement the classic exercises of healthcare professionals. “We can work on 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.

Next step: telerehabilitation

H’ability solutions are aimed directly at healthcare professionals specializing in rehabilitation. To use them, they must acquire the appropriate equipment: portable headsets recommended by the start-up and digital support allowing them to access the H’ability management platform, from which they can configure and launch personalized sessions. . “Everything has been thought out to make it easier to get started with the solution and allow professionals and their patients to get started in less than three minutes,” says Bérengère Henrion.

Five healthcare establishments 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 test with rental of equipment to the purchase of headsets and provision of software for 1 to 3 years.

The next step: expand the BtoB offer to BtoBtoC by rolling out directly to patients’ homes. “We want to become a telerehabilitation tool, so that the patient can continue to exercise at home, always with remote medical monitoring. This would increase rehabilitation time while freeing up medical time. With our light and mobile device, it is quite possible”, explains Bérengère Henrion.

The start-up, which employs four peopleis preparing its first fundraising for the first half of 2023.

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Virtual reality: with H’ability, augmented rehabilitation

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