Fourier Intelligence’s successful first annual GReAT Summit
SHANGHAI, Jan 13, 2020 – Shanghai Fourier Intelligence, a tech startup focusing on rehabilitation robotics, has just concluded its inaugural Global Rehabilitation & Assistive Technology Network Summit, held yesterday in Shanghai.
The event, known for short as the GReAT Summit, opened to great fanfare and was attended by more than 500 guests with diverse backgrounds in rehabilitation, clinical medicine, technology, industry and so on.
This is the first time the 4-year-old Shanghai company, which is an emerging global leader in the design and manufacturing of mass-market rehabilitation robotics, has brought together world-famed academics and industry practitioners to discuss a range of issues pertinent to rehabilitation technology and patient care.
“Technology knows no borders, and nor does medicine,” says Alex Gu, Fourier Intelligence Founder and Group CEO. “We only have one common enemy to vanquish, and that is diseases.”
As Chinese population ages rapidly, the country is grappling with a spike in the incidence of age-related diseases like stroke. Products and services that aid the elderly with mobility impairment are much in demand, presenting a huge opportunity for a contingent of tech startups tapping into the senior care segment.
A rapidly aging China needs to embrace technology to rise to challenges brought by changing demographics, primarily an increase of certain diseases, Mei Zhe, deputy director of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, told the audience at the GReAT Summit. As part of the GReAT Summit, Fourier Intelligence also partnered with China Health Promotion Foundation to launch a public-welfare initiative known as “Grassroots Rehabilitation Innovative Service and Capacity-Building Program.”
According to some estimates, China has a shortfall of some 300,000 therapists. This problem affects all of China’s hospitals, but to varying degrees. Third and fourth-tier cities are dealt a poor hand as they find themselves in the shallow end of a talent pool.
With an aim to enable hospitals in these regions to offer innovative physiotherapy to underprivileged citizens, the new initiative will serve as a platform for pooling resources and building a more inclusive and accessible multi-level rehabilitation service system across the country, so as to reach patients in remote corners of the country.
To date, China has 249 million people aged 60 and older, about 60 percent of whom are seeking rehabilitation medication, but only 15 percent of those needs are met, says Mei Zhe, deputy director of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, at the GReAT Summit.
In a megapolis like Shanghai, which has been graying rapidly over the past decade, demographers reported that by the end of 2018, permanent residents 60 years of age and above accounted for 34.4 percent of the city’s population, meaning that one in three locals is a senior citizen.
“Through cutting-edge rehabilitation and assistive technology, we can bring hope to the elderly to have a better quality of life, ” Mei of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau noted. “The future is bright for the rehabilitation and assistive technology industry.”
As an industry leader, Fourier Intelligence has been at the forefront of meeting patient needs via technologies like rehabilitation robotics. On top of the upper extremity robotics, exoskeletons and other gadgets in its product line, the company also introduced seven new products at the summit, aimed at satisfying the needs of stroke patients and other victims of impaired mobility throughout the rehabilitation process.
Among the new additions, a highlight was a 380-gramme wearable robotics called HandyRehab. With roughly the same weight as a canned Coke, it fits easily on the user’s hands like a glove and is designed to help complete simple day-to-day tasks such as grasping an object or opening a bottle for patients whose hands are immobile from stroke, Parkinson’s disease, neurological disorders and other handicaps. All these gizmos will fit into an integrated system.
“The RehabHub incorporates engaging user interfaces and reward-based therapeutic methods like games to encourage patients to willingly undergo physiotherapy, as opposed to conventional therapy where patients are subject to repetition of mundane, boredom-inducing movements. In a RehabHub, all data generated during training sessions can be accessed and shared, forming a truly intelligent interconnected rehabilitation network,” says Gu, Group CEO of Fourier Intelligence.
Innovations like these promise to benefit China’s legion of physically challenged people, who are increasingly reliant on advances in technology to improve their lives.
“Apart from the fact that the number of senior citizens (aged 60 and older) is increasing by 5.4 percent each year, we are also confronted with the arduous task of providing rehabilitation to people with physical disabilities,” says Liu Xiaochun, head of the Managing Committee of Specialised Funds under China Health Promotion Foundation.
He added that nationwide there are 85 million people with disabilities who need to be cared for, and also to be treated and guided by means of modern technology and management.
Fourier Intelligence has responded by initiating the GReAT Network, which includes a number of leading medical and research institutions such as the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, ETH Zurich, Imperial College London, the University of Melbourne, Instituto Cajal, h/p/cosmos sports & medical gmbh, among others.
“The expected role the GReAT Network is to leverage the synergies of scientists, researchers, engineers and clinical therapists to build a vast network of global rehabilitation resources”, says Zen Koh, Fourier Intelligence Co-founder, Group Deputy CEO and Chief Strategy Officer.
“Strokes, spinal cord injuries and paralysis are issues of global concern. Traditional treatment can do little to help. We have to look for new paths to recovery,” says Jose Pons, chair of the Leg + Walking Lab at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, which has topped the rankings of US neurorehabilitation hospitals for 28 consecutive years.