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Research explores how MedTech can transcend physical assistance to enhance patients’ mental well-being

Authored by: Tom Donnelly and Kirsty Beede, MedTech Directors

Published in Quirk’s magazine, January 2024

We all want to be autonomous but a medical condition, an incident or aging may cause us to have difficulties with mobility and/or dexterity. These challenges often limit our independence, which can lead to a reliance on others to help with daily activities of living. However, the use of medical devices and technology (MedTech) can help overcome some of these challenges. Examples include simple devices such as a cane, walker, wheelchair or a grabber tool as well as high-tech solutions like an exoskeleton. In this article, we will describe the types of help these patients need, what devices and technology are currently used and explore unmet needs for companies to address. In addition to the findings of functional needs, our research uncovered insights on mental health needs.

The inspiration for this research came from tangential findings from a packaging needs in-home ethnography study for Friedrich’s ataxia (FA) patients. In that research, respondents showed resilience, tenacity and positivity. They described how devices and technology increased their independence. One FA patient described how she renovated a ranch-style house to be a handicap-accessible smart home. This included easier access to the microwave and appliances, with countertops built such that her wheelchair could roll up under them. In addition, the lights, heat and locks were accessible via an app. These insights led to new research to explore in more depth what is currently being used, why some solutions were not being used and what their unmet needs are.

Read the full article in Quirk’s magazine.

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