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The Helix Centre – a healthcare innovation lab established by Imperial College London and The Royal College of Art – is trialling its new rehabilitation app for smartphones and smart watches amongst patients to help them manage their recovery from the beginning.

OnTrack Rehab is aiming to reduce the pressure off overstretched physiotherapists and occupational therapists and give patients the chance to manage their own rehabilitation journey by allowing them to set their own goals.

The app was created with a goal of giving stroke patients easy access to intense rehabilitation, which is often critical for recovery.

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The Helix Centre worked with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, two community NHS Trusts and three stroke charities to gain insights into rehabilitation services for stroke patients. They found that patients often depend on therapists for feedback but are left on their own due to overstretched NHS resources and staff.

As a result, OnTrack Rehab takes people’s daily activities and converts them into productive rehabilitation, which helps patients see how their everyday routine can be important in the rehabilitative process. It allows patients to manage their recovery from the start and complements the effort of healthcare professionals.

Patients can share their progress and data with their clinical teams, who have never had the ability to see what was happening when they weren’t there.

“Stroke is the number one cause of disability in the UK and the journey towards recovery is often long and arduous, with many reporting that they don’t feel supported once they leave hospital,” said Gianpaolo Fusari, Senior Designer at Helix and OnTrack project lead.

“With OnTrack, we want to empower and motivate stroke survivors in their own recovery, to not only enable a more effective rehabilitation process and greater independence, but also alleviate the burden on carers and stretched health systems.”

According to the Helix Centre, its current trials have already had a knock-on impact on how people approach therapy time, creating a virtuous circle of feedback and progression.

The Helix Centre is currently focused on developing OnTrack for a clinical evaluation with its NHS and charity partners, and hopes that, in the future, it can be deployed and tested within NHS stroke services.

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