Tele-Rehabilitation Made Available to Elderly Stroke Patients


A patient being trained to use the tele-rehabilitation system for shoulder exercises

Did you know that only a quarter of stroke patients discharged from local hospitals continue with rehabilitation? The main reasons behind this are the physical, social and financial obstacles patients face getting to rehabilitation centres from their homes.

Associate Prof Gerald Koh, a public health physician specialised in geriatric rehabilitation, who passionately believes that stroke patients need to continue with post-discharge therapy, has teamed up with Associate Prof Arthur Tay and Dr Yen Shih-Cheng from the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering in NUS to develop tele-medicine as a way to overcome these barriers.

Tele-medicine allows patients to remain in their homes, while communicating in real-time with their therapists. With the generous support of the Singapore Millennium Foundation and in partnership with the National University Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and Ang Mo Kio Thye Hua Kwan Hospital, the team has developed a low-cost tele-rehabilitation system incorporating real-time video-conferencing, so that therapists can communicate with their patients remotely. Using wireless motion sensors worn by patients on their wrists or arms, data is transmitted to the therapist via the internet, allowing them to monitor and prescribe suitable alternative exercises, remotely.

The study has progressed into a clinical trial of one to two years, and the team hopes to develop the system further to support other acutely disabled patients, beyond stokes, to access affordable and effective rehabilitation.