Technology is the key to effective post-stroke management during COVID-19

Organizations are moving aggressively to convince patients to use technology at home, ensuring that patient accessibility is not compromised, writes Abhijeet Pandit, Director & CEO, SynPhNe India, in this exclusive article

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With the pandemic outbreak, we are adapting ourselves to a new reality each passing day and with every new reality comes a new challenge. Everyone around us is only talking about COVID-19, the healthcare system in the country seems to be focusing only on this issue now, rightly so, this pandemic deserves all the attention. However, we cannot fail to ignore the other diseases that are already a burden to our healthcare system.
In the case of stroke, it is the largest contributor to chronic adult disability. In India alone, 1.5 to 2 million stroke cases are reported every year. Medical experts believe that lack of awareness and methods of prevention are the reasons behind the increasing numbers. Given the current situation, there are reports stating that there has been a sharp decline in the reporting of stroke patients due to COVID-19 fear.
Moreover, the pandemic is posing unique health challenges in providing healthcare to patients who have suffered a stroke or are suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), learning disabilities (LD), Parkinson’s etc. These patients cannot go to a rehabilitation centre, nor can a therapist visit them at home. This eventually affects the patient’s condition causing regression. These patients require regular and continued therapy sessions to improve their condition. Hence, the current and future need is to adopt telemedicine and telehealth in delivering care to these patients.
In the case of healthcare technology companies, the greatest advantage is that a device can be used by the patient at home and results are monitored by an expert team remotely. Data is generated with every session. Organizations are moving aggressively to convince patients to use technology at home, ensuring that patient accessibility is not compromised.
Online consultation or virtual consultation is also proving to be a great success. Not only can patients consult their therapists sitting at home, virtual consultation also saves money and time invested in traveling to the actual therapy centre. Online sessions are usually live sessions which can be conducted three to five times a week, depending on the condition of the patient. During the sessions, the patients are assisted by a therapist. Each patient is taken through a carefully designed routine of warm up exercises followed by tasks like picking up a bottle, opening the bottle lid and pouring water in a glass, picking up a morsel of food with a spoon from a plate, etc. These tasks help the patient in his ADLs’ (Activities of Daily Living) and hence helping them become independent. Besides, the patients are also asked to perform easy tasks like reading, writing alphabets, doing a simple puzzle, etc. all targeted to improve his cognition. Furthermore, the patients are also advised on maintaining a healthy diet. The patients get to do all this in the comfort of his home, thus improving his chance of getting independent even during the lockdown.
Rehabilitation or effective stroke management is the only key to recovery for a stroke patient. We must be grateful that our country is at a juncture where we are taking digital evolution seriously and healthcare technology is no more a topic of lesser importance.
Many healthcare and medical technology companies are coming up with patient-centric solutions such as wearable devices. These devices are most often non-invasive that highlight a patient’s unconscious responses which may be hampering performance. For example, a wearable device can use a patient’s brain and muscle signals to assess, train and enhance functional capabilities. The person becomes aware of maladaptive, habitual brain-muscle responses in real- time while performing various tasks. These responses are then “self-corrected” using the device’s protocol. Most often these are the home-use solution that can be administered by a non-medical person.
Wearable devices are usually built on scientific principles of developmental biology and neuroscience. They highlight that moderation and balance of electrical activity in the brain and muscle is an important pre-requisite or “bridge” between one’s internal learning and the effect they physically manifest to the external world.
Wearable technology models facilitate a close integration of mind and body in real-time by enhancing the coupling of attention and muscle co-ordination as an easy and practical method to enhance neuroplasticity. It develops the capability to relax quicker and deeper, helping manage several health risk factors and improve quality of life. In this way, it promotes better performance and quicker learning at lower stress levels.
Thus, wearable technology devices aid patients in self-care with more personalized recommendations and help build a true partnership with their therapists and other healthcare providers.

About Author: Abhijeet Pandit, Director & CEO, SynPhNe India. Qualified as a Production Engineer and MBA, Abhijeet has more than 26 years of Marketing experience. This career spans Manufacturing, Sales and Marketing, Strategic Planning & Customer Relationship Management in acclaimed Indian and International Companies such as TATA Motors, Nissan Motor Company & Al-Futtaim Honda.