Smart textile innovations are about to reshape rehab at home

The multidisciplinary research project NeuRehab@home has now been selected to take part in the exclusive Silicon Valley-based REACH incubator program. This development represents a leap towards advancing smart textile applications in real world scenarios.

Rehabilitation challenges

In neuromuscular rehabilitation, the amount of training is a critical factor for achieving the desired outcomes. However, it is often challenging for people to stick to their treatment plans. NeuRehab@home brings easier and more effective rehab right to people’s living room. Based on data-driven insights, the new training methods are not only made more accessible but also more engaging and personalised. The aim is to reduce reliance on healthcare, fostering self-confidence and independence. 

A game-changer for successful rehabilitation

Li Guo is Associate Professor of Textile Technology at the Swedish School of Textiles and the project leader of NeuRehab@home, which was funded by the Knowledge Foundation. Together with Leif Sandsjö, Associate Professor of Human Factors Engineering at the Department of Work Life and Social Welfare, she describes the innovation as a biofeedback concept focusing on recording, analysis and presentation of myoelectric (EMG) signals, in order to make the individual aware of their muscle activity. The game-changer is a low-cost textile-electrode system which makes specific training regimes easy and comfortable to use. The concept has been successfully applied in a pilot study addressing Phantom Limb Pain where muscle activity from the amputated limb is used to control, e.g., computer games. 

“Great potential to create impact”

The project is one of 79 research projects that the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences last year judged to have great potential to create impact through commercialisation, business and method development, or societal impact. NeuRehab@home was also selected to participate in the exclusive REACH Incubator program. 

“Being selected by REACH is a validation from experts that our work has the potential to create a significant impact on society. As researchers, we often focus on what can be achieved ‘in the lab’, we are happy that our concepts and ideas have been considered valuable by real world professionals who are experts in other areas”, said Li Guo and Leif Sandsjö.

“It’s all about collaboration”

This smart textile application is the result of long-term cross-faculty collaboration at University of Borås and multi-sector collaboration with the industry. The collaboration between the Department of Textile Technology and the Department of Work Life and Social Welfare dates back to 2010 and continues with the new projects HOPE, funded by the Knowledge Foundation, and TextrodeMisc, founded by EU – Horizon Europe. In the projects funded by the Knowledge Foundation, including NeuRehab@home, the collaboration was extended to researchers also from different fields at Chalmers and University of Manchester, as well as the business partners, e.g. Bola AB, Daralabs, and Integrum AB. 

Commercial possibilities 

“It's not that we're primarily aiming to go into the business side of things as researchers, but if our work is identified as having business merit, it suggests we're doing something right”, said Li Guo.

The aim of taking part in the REACH program is to explore the potential impact of our research, assessing its viability in real-world scenarios beyond the academic realm, both in Europe and the US.

About REACH Incubator programme
REACH is a Silicon Valley-based incubator program designed to boost Nordic research-based tech projects and spin-outs with international ambitions and potential. It includes six months of an on-the-job training program, including two 14-day acceleration parts (online autumn 2023 and on-site spring 2024) as well as five months of mentoring.

Read more

NeuRehab@home project page
Li Guo researcher profile page
Leif Sandsjö researcher profile page