Clinical trial results are driving the purchase of NeoRehab Pty Ltd’s virtual rehabilitation clinic to treat patients in remote and regional Australia.

NeoRehab  is one of UniQuest’s university research-based start-up companies, established to commercialise the eHAB® telehealth system for allied health professionals.

Blue Care, Queensland Health, The University of Queensland, and the Hear and Say Centre are among the healthcare organisations which have recently purchased prototypes of NeoRehab’s eHAB® system, following extensive clinical and production testing of the system.

For Cairns-based Jack Gardiner, 12, the technology has meant fewer trips to Brisbane for audiology services, saving time and money for his family and minimising stress for him.

Jack was born deaf, and wears cochlear implants which require regular MAPping (or reprogramming) to insure they are hearing optimally. He was the first Cairns child to benefit from the Hear and Say Centre’s trial of the eHAB® videoconferencing system to MAP his cochlear implant remotely.

Hear and Say Clinical Director, Emma Rushbrooke, said the results using eHAB® showed no significant differences between MAPs obtained in traditional face-to-face environments, and long term, the organisation planned to integrate the technology into their existing outreach programs.

NeoRehab Chief Technical Officer and University of Queensland Telerehabilitation Research Unit co-director, Dr Trevor Russell, said the eHAB® system would be used to make hundreds, if not thousands, of calls to diagnose and treat Australian patients in 2011.

“There was a clear need for a solution such as eHAB, and this became even more evident when the industry started approaching us, despite the fact we hadn’t started marketing the product,” said Dr Russell.

“After we published our clinical trial results, healthcare providers became genuinely excited because finally there’s a clinically proven technology they can use to deliver quality, and in some cases better, care via the Internet for physiotherapy, audiology, speech therapy, and occupational therapy,” he said.

“In Australia, it can be frustratingly difficult to treat regional, remote and even house-bound urban patients with conventional face-to-face consultations because the distances are just too large and we don’t have enough clinicians. That’s why I set out to create a solution.”

eHAB® is the product of more than 11 years’ research and development by Dr Russell and Professor Deborah Theodoros, who are regarded as world leaders in telerehabilitation research.

The pair worked closely with UniQuest, The University of Queensland’s leading commercialisation company, to patent the eHAB® technology and license it into NeoRehab Pty Ltd.

NeoRehab Director, Clint Ramsay, said the company was seeking investment to refine eHAB® for large-scale production and enter international markets.

“NeoRehab has been extremely successful in securing grants to take it through initial product development and clinical trials,” said Mr Ramsay.

“We’re now looking to launch the product and begin hitting international markets,” he said.

“The eHAB® system and its advanced software tools are proven in the field.  It’s really just a matter of upgrading the current hardware to make it smaller, more portable and cheaper for customers.  We also want to begin actively marketing the system, and secure regulatory approval for key markets such as the US.”

NeoRehab was awarded a 2011 ‘What’s Your Big Idea Queensland’ grant in April. It is also one of 50 innovations and ventures UniQuest will be promoting at this year’s BIO Convention in Washington DC, the largest annual industry meeting of its kind in the world.

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