Clinicians Should Be More Open to New Technologies Benefiting Patients, Says Inventor of recoveriX BCI Stroke Treatment


Many new advancements in medical science are unveiled each year, but the actual, on-the-ground clinical practice can be quite slow to adopt these new technologies. This is because clinical practitioners, such as doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, tend to stick to what they have been trained on. These previous modes of treatment are already tried and tested, and most clinicians see no need to deviate from established norms.

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One example of this is Christian Kunz, an Austrian doctor who developed a vaccine for the virus that causes tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), which can be fatal. Despite the vaccine being approved by authorities, it took 20 years for it to be accepted as standard care. In the meantime, he traveled around Austria, providing the vaccine to farmers and forest workers, minimizing infections and fatalities.

Today, a couple of technologies many practitioners are quite hesitant to harness are electroencephalogram (EEG) scans and its associated brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. According to Dr Christoph Guger, Co-Founder and CEO of g.tec medical engineering GmbH, and a pioneer of BCI, EEGs were previously difficult to use, and they required a neurologist to read the results. However, due to advances in AI and machine learning, a neurologist is no longer needed, making EEG and BCI easier to incorporate in the medical field.

One of the leading applications of EEG and BCI is the recoveriX treatment, developed by g.tec medical engineering, which has been shown to aid the recovery of stroke and multiple sclerosis patients. The technology, which is available in more than a dozen countries in multiple continents, involves the patient sitting in front of a computer unit while wearing an EEG headset that reads their brainwaves. The monitor serves as a movement guide for their limbs, and the electrodes connected to their limbs provide electrical stimulation to muscles, causing dorsiflexion of the joints.

Patients who have undergone repeated recoveriX treatments were able to perform better at the nine-hole peg test, a measure of fine manual dexterity that helps determine whether a stroke or MS patient’s condition is improving. These patients have also shown improvements in their concentration, physical performance, cognition, memory, fatigue, and bladder control, resulting in better quality of life.

Despite these promising results, Guger identifies several barriers to the widespread adoption of treatments such as recoveriX. These include most clinics and rehabilitation centers already having a full menu of services, making it hard for them to incorporate recoveriX into their operations.

Nowadays, thanks to the internet and social media, patients now have more knowledge at their disposal and have more control over their health and recovery. g.tec has released videos of patients before and after receiving recoveriX treatment, showing significant improvements in their condition.

Guger recommends that patients who want to use recoveriX approach their therapist or rehabilitation center and ask for them to carry recoveriX, which will indicate that there is an existing demand for this innovative treatment. Guger adds that recoveriX does not take a lot of space, training, and manpower to use. In a single room, up to four patients can receive recoveriX treatments, with only one therapist handling them. Training therapists to use recoveriX also takes just several days, allowing quick rollout.

At the moment, not all national health insurance systems cover recoveriX. Despite this, there is a growing number of patients willing to pay for it out of pocket, as they are convinced that it works. Several patients have even flown to Austria from other countries to undergo recoveriX. Guger says that this is a growing trend in Europe, where, despite universal healthcare, patients are paying for medications and treatments that are not covered due to authorities being unable to keep abreast of the latest developments.

“BCI technology has shown huge promise in helping improve the condition of people with neurologic conditions, such as stroke and MS,” Guger says. “Technology and innovation are moving at such a rapid pace, but clinicians and insurance providers are sometimes unable to keep up. The patients of today are now more empowered to learn about their medical conditions, and they can ask their providers if they can carry treatments such as recoveriX, which has been proven to be safe and effective.”

As part of g.tec’s mission to promote BCI technology, it is holding a 10-day brain-computer interface and neurotechnology spring school, to be held from April 22 to May 1, 2024. It will provide a total of 140 hours of education on BCI and neurotechnology, with one day dedicated to recoveriX and how patients are responding to it, as well as how it is being incorporated into clinical routines.

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