The Accelerated Access Collaborative, through SBRI Healthcare, in collaboration with the Stroke Association, has awarded over £5 million to seven innovations that support stroke patients.
Stroke is the fourth biggest cause of death in England with more than 100,000 strokes a year in the UK. Yet despite significant progress globally in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of stroke, there is intense pressure on the stroke rehabilitation pathway, from acute to community stroke services.
In line with the priorities for stroke survivors, carers and healthcare professionals, identified in NHS England's demand signaling report and the Stroke Association and James Lind Alliance report, SBRI Healthcare Competition 18 'Stroke and Technology' focuses on addressing three primary issues: Pre-hospital diagnosis, rehabilitation, and life after stroke.
The projects were identified for phase 1 funding in February 2022 and over six months have demonstrated their technical feasibility and impact. This second phase of funding will provide the innovations with support for up to twelve months to support the development of prototypes and evaluation, before real-world implementation.
The innovations include an immersive home-based virtual therapy platform, point of care testing, a triage and referrals system, and tools to support rehabilitation and long-term care.
SBRI Healthcare is an Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) initiative -- a partnership between patient groups, government bodies, industry and the NHS hosted by NHS England -- delivered in partnership with The AHSN Network.
Matt Whitty, CEO of the AAC, said:
"Our stroke demand signalling report identified the most important research questions and innovation challenges that need addressing to help deliver for those impacted and we're delighted to build on that work by investing in the fantastic innovations we are announcing today.
"We have selected these innovations because they have the potential to make a big difference in stroke care and by supporting the most promising innovations the NHS will continue to evolve, helping meet more patients' needs and encouraging more innovators to come forward with ideas that make a difference."
Dr Richard Francis, Head of Research at the Stroke Association, said:
"We are delighted to continue our partnership with SBRI Healthcare by supporting seven stroke projects in Phase 2. This will enable the projects to build on their success in Phase 1 and further develop and test their interventions in stroke diagnosis, treatment and care. These projects address key research priorities identified by stroke survivors and clinicians in the stroke Priority Setting Partnership. Every minute stroke goes untreated, 1.9 million brain cells die. Improved pre-hospital diagnosis will help ensure people get the right care as quickly as possible, while innovative rehabilitation and long-term care solutions can help survivors make the most of their recovery and rebuild their lives."
The awarded projects are:
Pockit Diagnostics Ltd -- awarded £798,919 -- A point-of-care blood test for the pre-hospital identification of stroke patients suitable for emergency thrombectomy treatment
Pockit Diagnostics completed the development of a portable test able to measure two blood molecules and identify stroke patients with very high accuracy. The test provides results very rapidly and could be used to select patients early (ambulance) and accelerate treatment. However, before the test can be deployed, the technology needs to be scaled up and its accuracy for identification of large artery stroke confirmed on a real-world patient population.
Cognitant Group Ltd -- awarded £423,981 -- Providing a coordinated, connected world for all stroke survivors and their families through a personalised, digital support package: the 'My Stroke Companion' hub
The 'My Stroke Companion' hub will provide high-quality, personalised and shareable information about stroke for patients, carers and family; communicate and explain how the local stroke pathway fits together and provide a trusted channel for patients to access peer support and local community services. It will be disseminated to patients by healthcare professionals upon hospital discharge and integrated into the stroke pathway.
NeuroVirt Limited -- awarded £754,388 -- Immersive Virtual Reality for post-stroke patient rehabilitation and quantification of impairment and improvement
NeuroVirt utilises immersive Virtual Reality to gamify and individualise movement rehabilitation for stroke survivors whilst quantifying recovery progress for clinicians. NeuroVirt is unique in providing improved quality of movement control in people's homes whilst connecting healthcare practitioners to their patients remotely.
Imperial College London -- awarded £800,000 -- OnTrack Rehab: A digital system for upper limb rehabilitation after stroke
OnTrack is a system to help stroke survivors recover the use of their impaired arm after a stroke with potential to improve experience and outcomes of arm rehabilitation. The aim is to demonstrate OnTrack's clinical benefits, how it can save money to the NHS, and how it can be widely implemented.
Sonalis Imaging Limited -- awarded £798,968 -- Accelerated stroke diagnosis and triage using full-waveform inversion of transmitted ultrasound
Sonalis is developing technology that uses ultrasound to generate accurate high-resolution three-dimensional images of the brain and its blood supply using a device that is fast, portable and universally safe. They aim to accelerate diagnosis and treatment of stroke, saving lives and reducing disability, in the NHS and worldwide.
Odstock Medical Limited -- awarded £800,000 -- A two-channel neuromuscular stimulator with improved usability and wider application for therapeutic and orthotic use for people with central neurological damage
Odstock Medical Ltd is developing a new neuromuscular stimulator to help improve walking and arm function for people with partial paralysis. The device will treat people with a wide range of disabilities, helping improve their mobility and independence. SBRI funding will accelerate the development of this new neuromuscular stimulator project.
Evolv -- awarded £791,815 -- Move Well virtual platform for stroke survivors' rapid rehabilitation through fun exergaming-based learning of accurate body movements
EvolvRehab® is a CE+UKCA marked virtual therapy platform used to treat neurological and age-related conditions from hospital to home. It allows therapists to reduce their workload by remotely prescribing and monitoring gamified exercise programs for patients at home, increasing their physical activity and treatment adherence which leads to improved outcomes.
SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) Healthcare is an Accelerated Access Collaborative funded initiative that provides funding to innovators to develop solutions that tackle existing unmet needs faced by the NHS. The programme aims to improve patient care, increase efficiency in the NHS, and support the UK economy. The SBRI Healthcare team, through support from The AHSN Network, works closely with clinicians and frontline NHS staff.
The Accelerated Access Collaborative is a unique partnership between patient groups, government bodies, industry and the NHS. It delivers ambitious programmes to ensure the NHS is in the best place to improve patient outcomes and reduce health inequalities through research and innovation. It does this by identifying the best new medicines, medical devices, diagnostics and digital products. It supports providers and integrated care systems to make them available to patients as quickly as possible. In addition, the AAC supports increasing participation in research and access to research trials. Over 1.6 million patients have benefited from its programmes to date, helping patients spend over 278,000 fewer days in hospital and saving the NHS over £185 million.
There are 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation at pace and scale -- improving health and generating economic growth. Each AHSN works across a distinct geography serving a different population in each region. As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, AHSNs are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients.
Stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK and it changes lives in an instant. The Stroke Association is a charity working across the UK to support people to rebuild their lives after stroke. They believe that everyone deserves to live the best life they can after stroke. From local support services and groups, to online information and support, anyone affected by stroke can visit stroke.org.uk or call the dedicated Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100 to find out about support available locally. Follow on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.