Ora teaches how to walk again, remotely

Ora teaches how to walk again, remotely

by Startup Montréal
27 November 2022

This article was initially published in French on infobref.com 

People with walking problems need rehabilitation. But the physiotherapists and other clinicians who can help them are very busy and often lack availability. Quebec-based startup Ora Médical helps them monitor their patients remotely, using a service that combines a mobile app with sensors placed on the walking aids the patient uses.

The problem Ora Médical is addressing is the lack of accessibility to rehabilitation care for people with mobility impairments. 

Whether they have suffered a stroke or other accident, or were born with a neurological or neurodegenerative disease, they often struggle to get the number of physical therapy appointments that they need.

“Seventy-two percent of patients undergoing rehabilitation for mobility issues don’t get enough care,” says Sarah Lambert, president and co-founder of Ora Medical. Because of this, 39% are even forced to stay at home. Yet, if they are forced to remain sedentary, they are at risk for skill loss, weight gain and heart problems.”

Ora Medical’s solution is to rely on telerehabilitation: remote rehabilitation.

The idea is to place sensors on the walking aids the patient uses – cane, walker or crutches – and on their shoes. These sensors collect data on movements. The patient receives this data on an application on their phone. The app then communicates it remotely to a health care professional’s computer, which oversees his or her functional rehabilitation.

“With this data, a clinician can see how the patient is progressing, how quickly they are improving between physical therapy sessions,” explains Sarah Lambert. “This allows the therapist to quickly and accurately adapt their treatment to the patient’s changing condition, and even modify their treatment plan remotely. The business model is to sell a software service to hospitals and clinics that want to remotely monitor their patients’ rehabilitation, for example after surgery. Our application is a complement to the services the therapist gives. It allows him to treat his patients more efficiently, spending less time on them.”

The business model is to sell a software service to hospitals and clinics that want to remotely monitor their patients’ rehabilitation, for example after surgery.

For a public health system, like Quebec’s, it’s a way to save money. For a private health care facility, it would give them the option to charge less for their rehabilitation treatments.

Currently, Ora Médical employs 7 people full time. It is one of 20 start-ups selected this year in the Bourse+ program of Startup Montréal

The company is about to commercialize its first product, the Levity, a posterior walker that supports the patient by the hips. It is designed for children between the ages of 4 and 12 who suffer from walking disorders. The walker is equipped with sensors, but they are not yet connected to a mobile app. The company has already received pre-orders for the device.

Next steps for Ora Medical

The company is continuing to develop its sensors and software, with an eye toward obtaining the necessary certifications.

“In late summer 2023, we will begin testing with partners: rehabilitation centers, Ciusss and senior living facilities,” says Sarah Lambert. She expects commercialization of the sensors and app to begin in 2024.

In the meantime, the company, which has already received $1 million in pre-seed financing, will conduct a seed financing round in the coming months with a view to obtaining $2 million.