15 September 2020

Geneva collaboration building nationwide VA tele-rehabilitation platform: Lower-limb sensor technology showcased

A team of research experts and clinicians showcased ReLOAD technology at the first MDORP Expansion Initiative Kick-Off Meeting

The Geneva Foundation (Geneva), in collaboration with the University of Miami, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Department of Defense (DoD), held the first Mobile Device Outcomes-based Rehabilitation Program (MDORP) Expansion Initiative Advisory Board meeting to grow the nationwide tele-rehabilitation platform and demonstrate innovative lower-limb orthopedic technology to enable service members and veterans to improve their walkability.

The goal of the meeting, hosted by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Department of Physical Therapy on February 20-21, 2020 in Coral Gables, was to develop a short- and long-term plan to build off successes from the original project supported by the DoD/VA Joint Incentive Fund. The Expansion Initiative is expanding MDORP to five additional VA facilities contributing to the ever-growing nationwide tele-rehabilitation platform for the DoD and VA.

Participants of the MDORP Advisory Board continued discussions while touring the adaptive SV Impossible Dream

During the meeting, the MDORP development team showcased Rehabilitative Lower-limb Orthopedic Accommodating-feedback Device (ReLOAD), a mobile application that uses small sensors in a knee sleeve worn by a Service Member or Veteran at home during daily walking or exercise. ReLOAD analyzes movements such as walking and provides verbal cues through standard earbuds to correct movements. To assist with each patient’s home rehabilitation program, exercises designed to improve function and walking ability with a prosthesis are prescribed on the app. ReLOAD can track and store exercises, walks and other activities for every patient while facilitating improved compliance and communication with the rehabilitation team. The technology has been compared to having a physical therapist in one’s pocket.

Several board members, who are Veterans with lower-limb loss, said their experience with ReLOAD during the meeting helped them walk better and was a good way to communicate with another participant for support. Additional feedback received will further development for the next phase such as adding the ability to incorporate customized goals and progress tracking. VA Physical Therapist Randi Woodrow from the Boston VA Healthcare System who attended the meeting said, “A system like this could get my patients to do more at home, getting them to walk better in less time.”

MDORP Advisory Board members include former study participants, VA and DoD clinicians, application system developers, and several renowned members of the limb loss research and rehabilitation world including: Dr. Joseph Webster, MD, National Director of the VA Amputation System of Care; retired Colonel Dr. Paul Pasquina, MD, Chair of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Department at the Uniformed Services University, Chief of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), and Co-Principal Investigator of the MDORP Expansion Initiative Project; Dr. Robert Gailey, Professor and Director of the Neil Speilholz Functional Outcomes Research and Evaluation Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Dr. Brad Isaacson, Principal Investigator for the Geneva Foundation; and Dr. Ignacio Gaunaurd, Research Health Scientist at the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center (Miami VA) and Co-Principal Investigator for the MDORP Expansion Initiative Project.

The MDORP development team includes Dr. Robert Gailey, Dr. Chris Bennett from the University of Miami, Frost School of Music, Music Engineering and Technology Department, and Dr. Ignacio Gaunaurd. Significant contributions came from representatives from six VA Medical Centers including Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, Richmond, Virginia; VA Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; Minneapolis VA Healthcare System, Minneapolis, Minnesota; VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System, Aurora, Colorado; Bruce W. Carter Medical Center, Miami, Florida, and Washington DC VA Medical Center, Washington, DC.

The time, dedication, and expertise of the MDORP Expansion Initiative Advisory Board is focused on using technology and innovation to provide the best possible care for the men and women who proudly served in the United States military.