Virtual rehab startup provides affordable, gamified solution to physiotherapy in India
A startup based in Faridabad uses Microsoft Kinect to gamify physiotherapy, making it a fun and affordable solution to those seeking physical therapy.
Prior to founding the startup, Varshney was inspired by the work of Roopam Sharma, a fashion model from the same college who later went on to be named one of MIT’s top eight innovators under 35 in India. After meeting with Sharma, Varshney contracted the entrepreneurial bug, and it was at this same time that he was involved in the accident.
“While traveling on a two wheeler with my friend, we met with a deadly accident and got my leg fractured,” says Varshney.
“The recovery required physiotherapy rehabilitation care, and we lacked personal financial resources to afford such care. [My friend], the more unfortunate one among us, due to lack of physiotherapy services, developed a serious condition and had to undergo a surgery and has till this date never been able to fully recover.”
After the accident, Sharma suggested to Varshney that he do something to solve the broken physiotherapy system in India, which, according to Varshney, provided “less than optimal services” or simply “did not exist.”
Fizio, a product of Spiro Studios, became the solution.
Fizio is a software based rehabilitation platform that makes physical therapy fun and convenient for patients recovering from surgery or injury. The games are motivating and created for different pathologies in order to respond and adapt to patient’s needs.
With 3D-Full Body Motion Sensing, Fizio animates the in-game avatar of a person using real-time motion capture data. The full skeleton of the user is then tracked and the functions performed are simulated in the virtual environment.
Analyses of the users are then sent to the Microsoft Azure Server, which hosts the database and helps measure the evolution of the patient on his or her way to recovery.
Hosting on Microsoft Azure has been increasingly popular for gaming. In the spring of 2013, Illyriad, a small UK games company with an existing massively-multiplayer real-time strategy game, approached Microsoft with the intention of hosting on Azure.
The result, according to Microsoft Technical Fellow and DECODED Show host John Shewchuk on the DECODED blog, was “a multi-massive online game realized with a small team in just a few months, and demonstrated through the scalability of Microsoft Azure.”
Fizio aims to make physiotherapy fun and convenient by transforming existing physical therapy exercises into video-games, and uses Microsoft Kinect sensors to track and assess patient compliance. Designed with physical and occupational therapists, each exercise and activity is programmed to maximize recovery in a safe environment.
After the FDA cleared Microsoft Kinect for physical therapy applications in February of last year, MobiHealth News reported, “Startups that use computerized motion tracking software, especially the Kinect, to facilitate physical therapy, are a small but growing niche in digital health.”
According to a study supported by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, “Kinect is inexpensive, easy to set up, and can be used in both home and clinical environments. This “pervasive” accessibility could significantly facilitate rehabilitation, allowing more frequent repetition of exercises outside standard therapy sessions.”
Combining Microsoft technology with Indian ingenuity to provide affordable physical therapy to a broken industry, Varshney adds, “I now want to bring Fizio to every person who has lacked physiotherapy services due to financial constraints.”
Check out what Dr. G.L. Khanna had to say about Fizio below.