Gait-focused wearable company gets $4.6M in NIH grants

By Jonah Comstock
03:54 pm
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APDM, a 9-year-old Portland, Oregon company with a mission to "develop and commercialize best-in-class solutions for quantifying human movement with wearable technologies" has been awarded three NIH grants worth a total of $4.7 million. They will work with the Oregon Health and Science University on all three projects, at least one of which is in preparation for a future commercial launch.

The company makes a research-grade wearable called the Opal which can be worn in a variety of locations on the body. The device is designed to aid in gait and balance research toward the goal of fall prevention.

The largest grant, at $2.9M, will fund a collaboration between APDM and the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) to study mobility in the daily lives of people with neurological diseases. 

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"At the completion of the proposed work for this Phase II grant, APDM and OHSU will have the first system that can continuously measure mobility, characterize turning and balance during continuous monitoring of subjects in and outside the home, and assess fall risk," the company wrote in an announcement on its website. "APDM and OHSU will also create the first wirelessly-synchronized ankle wrap, instrumented with inertial sensors to monitor gait and foot movements. Mobility Life will be suitable for use in medical applications to assess mobility fluctuations, response to medication, and disease progression in people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and multiple sclerosis (MS)."

The second grant, for $1.45 million, will go toward a collaboration with the OHSU School of Nursing. They will use wearables to study fall risk in post-treatment cancer survivors.

"The ultimate goal for this project is to develop a portable clinical system to quickly and automatically obtain objective measures of balance and gait impairments and to evaluate fall risk in cancer subjects using unobtrusive, wearable sensors," APDM wrote. "The outcome of Mobility Clinic will provide better clinical decisions and improved quality of life for cancer subjects at risk of falling due to cancer treatment."

Finally, just under $300,000 will go to a project called Mobility Rehab, a collaboration between APDM, the Department of Neurology at OHSU, and the Balance Disorders Laboratory, a gait and balance disorders research program at OHSU. 

"The objective of this Phase I grant is to demonstrate the feasibility of an overground, gait biofeedback system for physical therapists to provide biofeedback for mobility training of older adults with gait impairments," the company explained. "In addition to feedback, the system, called Mobility Rehab, will enable clinicians to measure progress with objective and validated metrics and document the effectiveness of rehabilitation to facilitate reimbursement of their therapy services. APDM’s goal in Phase II is to optimize Mobility Rehab for personalized rehabilitation with visual and auditory feedback, conduct a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of Mobility Rehab on gait training in older adults with a variety of gait impairments during regular 6-week outpatient rehabilitation program, and to prepare the system for a commercial launch into the clinical market."

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