The Silicon Review
“We specialize in robotic rehabilitation, medical technology, medical devices, rehabilitation therapy, low back pain, movement disorders, physiotherapy, neural relearning”
Hocoma AG is a Swiss company, the leader in robotic rehabilitation therapy for neurological movement disorders. Products include medical devices used for robotic treadmill training of neurological patients and exoskeleton for the rehabilitation of upper extremities after stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Why was the company set up? What put you on your pioneer mission to redefine rehabilitation?
When working with Balgrist Hospital, I conducted functional gait therapy as part of my research. Functional gait therapy in the 1990s was strenuous for both therapists and patients. Three therapists were needed: one to put and securely hold a patient in an upright position and one on each foot to move the patient’s legs in a walking pattern over a treadmill. The solution was, as it turned out, a robot that did all this together and so we started developing the Lokomat around which we founded our company.
Tell us more about the Lokomat.
The Lokomat is a robotic medical device that provides functional gait therapy for paralyzed patients. The first Lokomat was sold in 2002 and we are now selling the sixth-generation Lokomat, including a downsized model for smaller budgets and optional accessory to treat children. More than 300 studies have been published on Lokomat therapy in peer-reviewed journals and prove the positive effects of intensive Lokomat therapy.
In 2016 Hocoma merged with DIH International, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Last year’s merger with DIH international was a strategic decision that enables us to provide an even more holistic solution along the entire rehabilitation continuum, as well as extend our innovation power by bringing companies with complementary technologies closer together. Also, as they already merged with Motekforce Link, a leader for virtual rehabilitation in research and MRS with their leading therapy planning software, FysioRoadmap, we have the right partners on board to establish an IT-platform that serves physicians, therapists and patients throughout the entire recovery process.
What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years?
Coming from research, we always maintained strong ties to different research hospitals around the world. Having many strong partners and a strong scientific advisory board made us know the needs of the market as well as the scientific rational. Like this we did a lot of tech transfers from around the world but also developed more and more own products covering the increasing demand for intensive therapy. With ongoing demographic changes and the subsequent need for neurological rehabilitation, the healthcare industry is facing its biggest challenge: how to cope with the increasing number of patients with limited resources.
In order to still work profitably, inpatient treatments generally get shorter and yet the need for rehabilitation is not fully covered when patients are discharged. There is a growing need to find solutions in which patients can still improve their quality of life even after they’ve left stationary care.
We at Hocoma understand and tackle these challenges and we strongly disagree that “rehabilitation” and “therapy” needs to be boring and painful. With innovative and holistic solutions for each stage of therapy, we challenge the current status quo and take the physical burden from therapists while making therapy fun and motivating for patients.
What do you feel are the reasons behind your company’s success?
Besides offering innovative solutions that have effectively proven to lead to better patient outcomes, one of the current drivers for success are the times we are living in. Technology is all around us. Technology empowers us to adapt to the fast pace of the modern world and there is a huge market need for advanced technologies in rehabilitation.
The fact that we truly change the lives of patients and their families as well as empowering therapists to concentrate on planning and conducting efficient functional movement therapy.
Our people, of course, are also a big success factor. Working on such a purposeful mission helps us to attract amazing talent from all over the world.
The network and the relationships we have established as the pioneer in this industry, with medical experts, key opinion leaders, developers and universities, just to name a few, are continuously growing. This support group helps us keep up the innovation and passion that fuel our drive to redefine rehabilitation.
Do you have any new products ready to be/getting ready to be rolled out into the market?
We are constantly developing and improving our existing products. Within upper extremity rehabilitation, we are about to launch ArmeoSenso – a sensor-based therapy solution for smaller clinics with moderate or mild impaired patients. And we are developing a new groundbreaking robotic device we can’t just yet talk about.
Where do you see yourself and your company a couple of years from now?
We’re striving to touch even more lives and strengthen our position as a total solution provider to cover the whole continuum of rehabilitation and connect therapists, devices and patients with the right infrastructure to plan, monitor and execute therapy in the most effective way possible. In simple words, We are staying the number one in a fast growing market.
“We will improve millions of lives by providing functional and efficient solutions that set the standards for human movement therapy.”