The Step Forward — How Products Like I-Care by SportsArt Can Be Used to Ease the Problems of Rehabilitation

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world suffer from illnesses that require rehabilitation and walking training. The demand outweighs the supply. To overcome this, SportsArt, in collaboration with the Madonna Hospital, launched ICARE, an intelligently-controlled elliptical that mimics walking more closely than any other product. ICARE comes with several patient-friendly features, allows clinicians relief from prolonged, manual assistance hours, and can be used in houses as well as clinics. Numerous individuals and hospitals have used and testified to the efficiency of ICARE.

According to the statistics, about 1 in 4 people over 25 years of age will suffer from a stroke. Globally, around 250,000 – 500,000 individuals suffer from a spinal cord injury (SCI), while about sixty-nine million are estimated to fall prey to a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) every year. Post-recovery, many of these individuals (and those suffering from some other diseases) need to undergo rehabilitation processes to regain walking and other abilities. On average, thousands of step-like movements are required for achieving sustainable neuroplasticity gains. However, availability (clinician shortage and fatigue) and affordability (expensive robotic assistance) of aid often do not match demand.

ICARE: How it Works

To fill this gap, sustainable fitness equipment company SportsArt has launched ICARE (Intelligently Controlled Assistive Rehabilitation Elliptical), a fully-integrated system designed to ease some of the problems of rehabilitation. ICARE was developed at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and Research Institute in Lincoln, Nebraska, following three years of extensive and careful research. ICARE’s leg movements are intelligently-controlled, motor-assisted, and resemble the electromyographic (EMG) and kinematic patterns of unassisted walking. Thanks to being powered, ICARE allows people to begin and sustain the walk-like pattern during exercise. Further, the elliptical is installed with sensors: if a person needs more or less support, the power increases or decreases accordingly.

ICARE was developed not only to grant patients a sense of autonomy but also to relieve clinicians and therapists. Without automation, clinicians need to spend hours conducting straining manual manipulation to help one patient through rehab. As a technology, ICARE is neither too assistive nor too restrictive. The muscle and cardiorespiratory training demands can be customized to the particular needs of individual patients. This, coupled with ICARE’s ‘assist as needed’ approach, is what makes it a viable alternative for continuous clinician assistance in rehabilitation.

Keeping in mind the needs of patients, ICARE is equipped with adjustable bodyweight support and motor guidance of reciprocating handles and moveable footplates, both of which enable persons to accomplish the necessary number of repetitions. To increase accessibility, ICARE can be used at both homes and clinics. Best part is, it is very easy to setup and a single clinician can setup a patient which is not the norm for the most assisted locomotion devices.

Features and Models of ICARE

The complete ICARE system comes with the ICARE Elliptical (including several movement patterns and safety guards to prevent injury), wheelchair ramp, stairs, clinician platform (allowing clinicians to alter position for smooth monitoring), and a body unweighing system capable of lifting up to 400 lbs. of weight. Apart from the complete ICARE, SportsArt also provides the ICARE Plus System (including ICARE Elliptical and the body unweighing system) and the ICARE Motor-Assisted (only ICARE Elliptical).

The ICARE Elliptical includes movement patterns that resemble walking, forward and reverse motor assistance, adaptive assistance that adjusts according to the patients’ needs, fingertip controls for easy navigation, facility to integrate arms in the training, technology to monitor heart rate, remote controls for clinicians for effortless overseeing, password-controlled motor-assist features that allow non-motor features to be used by others, and an infrared safety system shutdown to reduce risk of injury.

As evidence of the efficacy of their technology, numerous reviews are available on the SportsArt website. These suggest that hospitals are generally satisfied with the product, the hospital staff is relieved that longer sessions to patients can be completed with less assistance from them, and the broad applicability of ICARE (it has been used by the Orthopaedic, Neurologic, Geriatric, Bariatric, and Paediatric departments).

With no foreseeable possibility of the number of patients experiencing walking rehabilitation diseases going down, the need for technologies like ICARE is bound to increase. ICARE’s most significant advantage is its extensive research backing, its array of consumer-friendly features, and, most importantly, the positive market response it has received.