MindMaze receives FDA clearance to bring VR rehab platform to the US

By Jonah Comstock
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Swiss neurogaming company MindMaze has received FDA clearance for its MindMotion Pro platform, a motion capture system similar to the Microsoft Kinect which can be used in rehabilitation of stroke and traumatic injury patients.

"In the last few years we’ve launched products at the intersection of the brain and VR," MindMaze CEO Tej Tadi told MobiHealthNews. "What we’ve done today very specifically is talking about the MindMotion platform, which got FDA clearance. The MindMotion platform is really a hospital-based product. It’s a really early acute app usually meant to accelerate neural recovery for patients who have ended up with movement deficits."

MindMotion Pro is designed for use in the hospital as soon as patients start their rehabilitation. For stroke victims who have lost the use of the left hand but retain the use of the right, for instance, the computer will project a virtual reality depiction of the nonfunctional left hand, which is controlled by the patient's movement of the working right hand. This can trick the brain into kickstarting the functionality of the other hand.

"This device is the first thing they see when they come out of surgery or acute care," Tadi said. "This is the first device that’s going to help accelerate their recovery. We have of course commercialized it in Europe and now the FDA clearance lets us bring this to the United States."

According to Tadi, MindMotion Pro is live in about 35 facilities in Europe. It was launched there in 2013.

Tadi said that the company opted to build its own motion-tracking camera after finding that off-the-shelf units like the Kinect weren't robust or accurate enough for clinical use.

MindMaze, which raised an impressive $100 million funding round in February, is also working on a more portable version of the product called MindMotion Go. Though it does not yet have FDA clearance, the company has completed more than 200 clinical trials on MindMotion Go, which could be used in outpatient clinics and eventually even in the home.

A third product, called Mask, received some attention when it was announced last month for its crossover value beyond the health space. Mask is a thin sensor that can be worn with a VR headset. It can detect the user's facial expressions and map them onto an in-game avatar.

"If you go into, say, the autism spectrum or other aspects of social interactions, you can imagine a scenario where a patient is controlling something and you’re able to emote," Tadi told MobiHealthNews. "It’s helpful in a therapeutic context, but also in a true clinical monitor for other kinds of deficits, not necessarily stroke. The Mask is designed to capture emotions either for therapeutic effect or just for consumer gameplay. It just works on both metrics."

Ultimately, MindMaze wants to use virtual and augmented reality to treat many different neurological conditions.

"One of the things we need to do is address cognitive issues and neurodegenerative diseases," Tadi said. "So we started with movement deficits and then we move into cognitive deficits eventually neurodegenerative deficits. So we need to become the standard of care platform that eventually brings together VR, AR, neurosciece to help accelerate recovery across a wide range of indications."