I had the opportunity to chat with Chirag on this very unique product journey that is filled with passion, learning and experimentation.
Chirag, pleasure to connect. Tell me a little bit about yourself and the journey so far. How big is your team?
Hello Mahesh, glad to connect with you and Silver Angels. I am an electronics and telecommunication engineer and during college was fascinated by the potential of robotic technology in improving human lives.
A visit to our neighbouring physiotherapy college gave me a chance to see the difficulty of patients with limited physical mobility and turned out to be a tipping point. That day, I decided to use my engineering skills, time and efforts to build something useful for physiotherapists and the patients undergoing physiotherapy and help physiotherapists in their effort to spread the joy of independence and good health.
A small research project which we started back in 2018 slowly matured into a product with the help of 250+ physiotherapists and occupational therapists whom we spoke to better understood the problems various stakeholders in the rehabilitation ecosystem face.
Going forward with Rymo and our team comprising 8 members we aim to make the best and most advanced rehabilitation tools accessible for every patient undergoing rehabilitation and increase their chances of living an independent life.
Why rehabilitation? How big is this market as you see from your vantage point? Who is your primary user – physiotherapist, family member or the patient?
In the initial phases of development, we got a chance to visit 100+ physical rehabilitation centres in 6 different cities. One of the learnings for us was that majority of the patients undergoing rehabilitation visit private physiotherapy clinics and a small minority go to larger centres in big hospitals. As big hospitals have more space and higher budgets some of them are able to provide technology aided rehabilitation which helps in faster recovery.
As per our research there are 10,000+ rehabilitation centres in India and less than 1% of these rehabilitation centres can accommodate imported robotic solutions due to the which there is a huge gap in the market which can be filled by a portable and affordable rehabilitation solution like Mobi-L.
Mobi-L’s primary beneficiary is the patient who is undergoing rehabilitation. Our solution makes it possible for the patient to measure their recovery objectively, have fun while exercising and also recover faster due to increased compliance and high intensity rehabilitation sessions which Mobi-L can facilitate.
R&D, prototyping and assembling – everything is being done in-house. What has been your learning on this front?
R&D, prototyping and assembling in-house has proved to be of great benefit for us. It has allowed us to keep listening to our user’s feedback and have the bandwidth to keep improving the product.
We have so far made 7+ major electromechanical iterations and 50+ software updates for our users. This has also helped us zero down on the most important features which will become a part of our final iteration before a nation-wide launch.
The long-term advantage for Rymo is that we now have a diverse engineering team with expertise in mechanics, electronics, robotics, software and game development and this allows us to continue to innovate, learn and grow.
Rymo’s software toolkit includes an Android-based app, games and much more. Can you expand why this is important? How does it improve the overall experience of the user?
Our software toolkit was built for Android with the objective of making operation of the device intuitive and minimize training required for the same. As most individuals are comfortable with using smartphones our software toolkit which runs on a 10.1inch Android Tablet can be used very easily.
The software ensures that the physiotherapist and patient get continuous visual and audio feedback while exercising. This not only makes the rehabilitation session goal based and measurable but also keeps the patient motivated to comply to the rehab session as prescribed.
The software toolkit also has multiple games and simulations of various activities of daily living which further make the rehab sessions fun filled and something that the patients can look forward to, and enjoy.
What are the different stages of rehabilitative care and recovery with Mobi-L? Could you please break that down?
Physical rehabilitation of upper and lower limbs generally starts with physiotherapist assisted exercises especially in the initial stages followed by active exercises where the patient is exercising independently.
These assistive and active exercises help the patient to regain full range of movement of the affected joint and recover one of the major aspects of mobility.
Once the desired range of motion is achieved the focus shifts to strength training which includes training with resistance, isometric exercises and doing exercises with varying resistance.
In order to meet the varied needs of the patients at different stages of recovery, Mobi-L can be setup with different protocols for training including assistive, active, resistive and isometric exercises. Thus, making it useful throughout the patient’s rehabilitation journey
As with most medical and health related fields, there is a shortage of physiotherapists in India. How does Mobi-L fit into this landscape? Say in a hospital or a rehab centre.
We all know technology is a huge enabler to improving work efficiency. For a software developer a high-end workstation will make his job faster and allow him to improve his productivity. Similarly, in a rehabilitation centre where a therapist is seeing multiple patients over the days or even at the same time our machine reduces not only the physiotherapist’s physical effort but also offloads significant efforts that go into engaging a patient to undergo his daily dose of rehabilitation. It helps improve their work efficiency and energy levels throughout the day.
With COVID, most of us have seen the difference that an objective measure makes in the diagnosis and treatment of a disease. A rapid antigen test for COVID 19 and the patients’ symptoms together provides an approximate idea of the diagnosis but a RT-PCR test helps the doctor to be more confident regarding the correctness of the diagnosis and also severity of the same. Similarly in rehabilitation a therapist’s experience and patients’ word regarding his physical condition is good to make an approximate guess regarding one’s condition and progress but a tool like Mobi-L validates the same and gives more confidence to the patient and the therapist.
Home-based care is on the rise in India, and particularly the demand for eldercare services. Do you see an opportunity here? How can Rymo solve some of the challenges here?
Some of the biggest challenges in long term rehabilitation are the need to travel regularly to physical clinics which might not be in immediate vicinity of one’s place of abode. This results in economic, time and logistics overhead on the family.
Rehabilitation at home is possible but especially for neuro rehabilitation it can also reduce the quality drastically as the tools that can be made available at home are limited. We believe our product can be used in a home setup and benefit the patient greatly as the space occupancy is minimum and operation is easy but it would need a physical therapist’s continuous guidance to maximise clinical results.
Going forward once Rymo is associated with a larger network of rehabilitation professionals we foresee collaboration opportunities that can be leveraged to deliver the most advanced rehabilitation at home.
What’s on the cards for Rymo this year?
This year Rymo is on route to complete its industrial design and launch its first product Mobi-L in India and make it available to 100+ rehabilitation centres. We have a goal to reach and positively impact the lives of at least 4000 individuals by 31st March 2023. These are a few baby steps which will help us democratise technology in physical rehabilitation and move forward in our goal to make India’s rehabilitation infrastructure one of the most advanced globally.
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