Dubai Health Authority announces implementation of smart physiotherapy at GITEX 2014

October 16, 2014 4:01 pm

In line with the vision of transforming Dubai into a smart city, DHA announced several breakthrough IT solutions it will display during GITEX 2014.

Among those is the first-of-its-kind pilot project in the region that involves the use of motion-sensing technology to transform physical therapy. The UAE is the first country to apply Microsoft’s motion-sensing technology to healthcare. The project, known as the Personal Therapist (PeThe), allows clinicians to track a patient’s range of movements and other clinical information. Clinicians can also connect with patients and provide them with real-time feedback as they perform exercises at their own pace.

The technology eliminates the need for patients to visit a physical rehabilitation center on a daily basis at a healthcare setting. Using this technology, physiotherapists can devise a home-based plan for patients, who are guided through motion sensor technology to ensure they are performing the exercises correctly, and that all the necessary physical parameters are measured to ensure patients receive continuous and accurate care.

These parameters are built-in the system and enable the physiotherapist to monitor the improvement of the patient and hence adapt the physiotherapy program accordingly. The PeThe, system also allows the caregiver and the patient to communicate through video messages, in future, the live video with the caring physiatrist and physiotherapist will also be possible. This system benefits stable patients, travelling patients, and chronic care patients to perform their physical rehabilitation programs from the venue they choose.

HE Eng. Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority, said: “This technology allows patients to take part in physiotherapy sessions from the comfort of their homes which is significantly important for patients who need to regain body movement and independence. Providing them with convenient options to ensure they regularly take part in physiotherapy sessions is essential for their optimal recovery. This technology helps provides an additional therapeutic tool to physiotherapists and enhances patient comfort.”

PeThe is made possible by the use of Kinect for Windows which allows users to interact naturally with computers by simply gesturing and speaking. The Kinect sensor is a hardware device from Microsoft that recognizes people’s natural movements, gestures, and voice commands.

Commenting on the project, Dr. Samir Said, M.D., Regional Director Health Industry, Microsoft Middle East and Africa , said: “Today’s technology is making the impossible possible. Through Microsoft motion-sensor technology and an innovative software like PeThe, patients can today benefit from a uniquely developed physiotherapy experience that matches their needs. By utilizing Kinect, Dubai Health Authority has reimagined healthcare in the UAE to deliver medical services to patients and added support to clinicians. It is an example of how innovation can have a real impact for better health. This is also in line with the vision of Dubai’s Leadership to realize the Smart Government Initiative to serve the county’s citizens and residents.”

Amani Al Jassmi, Director of Information Technology at the DHA, said: “PeThe allows physiotherapists to extend their expertise by recording exercises and sharing them with the patient via a secured internet connection. The patient receives a customized set of exercises, performs them as prescribed and sends them back to the clinician who can analyze them and correct them as needed. The system can send reminders to the patient through SMS or email, so that exercises are performed in a timely manner. The system does not record any videos of the patient, but only captures the movements’ patterns and sends them as an encrypted algorithm, therefore preserving the patient’s privacy at all time.”

Dr Mohammed Al Swaini Consultant and Head of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department at Rashid Hospital, said: “Kinect will empower physiotherapists to plan, record and customize treatment plans and schedules as well as to monitor patients’ sessions remotely to ensure they are exercising properly. The program provides interactive feedback and educational materials to patients to communicate the results of these exercises.”

Dr.Al Swaini said: “The pilot has been implemented since April 2014 at Rashid Hospital and will be rolled out to other DHA health facilities.”