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Could video games revolutionise neurotherapy?

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MindMaze is developing clinically proven digital therapies for neurological disorders, utilising gamification, smart objects and movement sensors

MindMaze’s medical-grade digital therapeutics assess and treat motor after neurological injury or disease.

The company’s products are in different stages of early to advanced research and development for several neurological conditions and for healthy ageing.

Most recently, MindMaze launched its MindPod Dolphin; a video game-based therapy that is being developed to improve upper-limb impairment after a stroke.

Neuroscientist and the chief medical advisor to MindMaze, Dr. John Krakauer, says: “The Mindpod Dolphin consists of a novel form of animation that encourages prolonged game play through the performance of large amplitude complex movements.

“The aim is to maintain the motivation and variety required to keep patients engaged in extended practice schedules.”

The MindPod Dolphin is currently being tested as part of a number of phase II and phase III clinical trials.

In a recent study, the tool was shown to be “non-inferior” to a high-dosage, high movement quality-based therapy.

A similar study will be carried out in chronic stroke patients by Professor Nick Ward at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology in London

Dr Krakauer says the potential for digital neurotherapeutics goes beyond neurological rehabilitation.

Preliminary results from a pilot study of healthy elderly people in an assisted living facility showed potential improvements to cognition and strength after twelve weeks using the MindPod Dolphin.

The Swiss company says it now has a new device in development for hand rehabilitation and over the next 12 months it plans to introduce new characters to the MindPod game system.

MindMaze’s first product, launched in 2013, is an FDA-cleared, CE Marked tool called MindMotion GO, that enhances neurorehabilitation methods through 27 different video games.

The tool uses full-body motion capture and is able to provide real-time feedback on quality of movement.

MindMotion GO is currently being rolled out in the US and throughout Europe to treat patients recovering from Stroke.

In the UK, the product is used by Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, Birkdale Neurorehab and PhysioFunction.

With the pandemic limiting access to clinics, demand for digital therapies, including MindMaze products, has seen a dramatic increase.

Dr Krakauer says: “MindMaze’s MindMotion GO was already a good platform for telerehab before COVID-19. Since the pandemic, the potential of the product for telerehab has been made very apparent and use has increased at Johns Hopkins and Mt Sinai in New York, as well as a number of institutions in Europe.”

As more reports of brain disorders for post-COVID-19 patients emerge, the long-term impact of the disease on previously healthy and those predisposed to neurological disease is becoming clear.

MindMaze has responded to this with a number of new products which are currently subject to clinical trials.

Dr Krakauer says: “We are developing additional software and hardware-based products to provide extensive neuro rehabilitation for post-COVID patients from the safety of one’s home with a suite of products currently in Phase II and III of clinical studies.”

Although COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of MindMaze’s teletherapies, the need for its products were prominent before the pandemic hit.

According to the latest estimates from The Neurological Alliance, there are a total of 16.5 million neurological cases in England alone, amounting to 75,000 cases per Clinical Commissioning Group.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says neurological deficits were the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.

More than 795,000 people have a stroke every year, costing the country an estimated US$34 billion per year.

MindMaze’s products are tied together by cloud technology, motion analytics and artificial intelligence. Dr Krakauer says the software platform can be leveraged to treat and monitor patients across the continuum of care, including at home.

Dr Krakauer says: “The nervous system changes through experience-dependent learning and plasticity. Just like in healthy people learning complex tasks that require high levels of skill, true improvements after nervous system injury or disease require extended periods of challenging practice.

“Essentially, we build an environment that provides a unique immersive training experience, for those with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke and patients with post COVID-19 neurological issues.

“We’re seeking to expand care options for providers and patients alike. There are emotional, psychological and physical benefits to being able to increase the dose and intensity of training, and to be able to be treated at home.”


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