Now, after developing technology that uses body sensors and
artificial intelligence for his doctorate in electronic engineering,
Bento aims to transform the way victims of strokes and accidents
The Stroke Wearable Operative Rehabilitation Device (SWORD) provides
an exercise program on a tablet computer, which gives instructions
to a patient, whose movements are monitored by sensors strapped to
Progress reports are sent through the cloud to a remote
physiotherapist, who can alter the exercises by sending instructions
back to the tablet for the patient to see.
"It's not magic, it's simple," said Bento, explaining how his system
could mark a sea change by dramatically reducing the cost of
physical rehabilitation and making it affordable to millions.
"I saw first hand very vividly the challenges that my parents faced
to provide intensive physical rehabilitation," he said. "I thought
to myself 'ok this is a huge challenge that nobody is looking at,
nobody is trying to solve, I will try to solve it'."
The market place for medical technology is exploding, but few
solutions have been designed to aid the intensive physiotherapy
required for serious conditions like stroke. Alternatives, like
robotics, are vastly more expensive.
"There aren't enough therapists and the numbers (who need them) are
only going to go up (as populations age)," said Tom Paprocki,
managing director of the innovation and technology center at Direct
Supply, America's leading provider of equipment and services to
senior homes. "This kind of technology will help bridge that gap."
Paprocki has vetted 1,400 technology start-ups in the sector and
says Bento's system is in the top five.
Bento's idea is simple -- to offer patients physical, interactive
rehabilitation in the comfort of their own home by getting rid of
the need for difficult and expensive visits to a physiotherapist at
It has taken years to refine and adapt, relying on unique sensor
technology and the latest advances in cloud computing. Initial
results show 93 percent of patients improved their motor performance
using the exercises provided by the system.
[to top of second column]
The yearly estimated cost of treating and caring for stroke
survivors - where Bento has concentrated his research - is 30
billion euros ($32 billion) in Europe and 57 billion euros in the
U.S., according to a report provided by Bento's company to the
Bento says his system, which gives patients immediate feedback and a
score on the number of right and wrong movements they perform, will
cost one tenth of physiotherapy.
"At the end of each exercise the results appear, how many times I
did the movements, how many medals I won," said Alvaro, 56, who has
used the system after hip surgery. "There is virtual compensation if
you do the exercises well, it's kind of fun and ends up being a bit
of a game as well."
Bento won a development grant of 1 million euros from the European
Union in 2014 under a program for technology models promising to
"ultimately disrupt existing markets."
He has raised 1 million euros from private investors and is now
launching another financing round of 3 million euros as he rolls out
SWORD in the U.S. market.
($1 = 0.9426 euros)
(Reporting By Axel Bugge; Editing by Toby Davis)
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