May 12, 2020

      VIGO – a digital stroke rehabilitation assistant created in Latvia

      With the support of the LMT’s “For a Healthy Latvia” initiative, the first version of the innovative remote rehabilitation tool VIGO created in Latvia has become available to patients on the European Stroke Awareness Day. As on-site rehabilitation opportunities with specialists are limited, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, this digital tool will help to restore or at least improve the health of thousands of people.

      Rehabilitation assistant VIGO provides digital rehabilitation therapy to patients after a stroke. VIGO is suitable for patients who have not completely lost their physical or mental abilities because of a stroke.

      The tool was developed by the Latvian company SIA “Vigobot”, represented by health care innovation expert Kristaps Krafte and doctor Dr. Jānis Šlēziņš. The first version of the VIGO application is available to patients with the support of LMT and is one of LMT's "For a Healthy Latvia" initiatives aimed at promoting the digitalization of the medical sector and the availability of remote medical care solutions that is especially important during the Covid-19 crisis.

      "When researching the possibilities of stroke rehabilitation, we were surprised how few innovations are available in this field and how many patients do not receive the necessary care in sufficient quantity," tells Kristaps Krafte about the idea.

      In Latvia, stroke affects about 10 thousand people every year, it often affects not only seniors, but also people of working age. Most patients after stroke need rehabilitation. In order to recover as successfully as possible, the first six months after a stroke are critical in rehabilitation, so it is important to start rehabilitation as early as possible, and it is often necessary for a long period, even more than a year. Unfortunately, limited human resources and the capacity of rehabilitation facilities to rehabilitate stroke patients mean that thousands of people have lost some of their chances of recovering or at least improving their health. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the availability of rehabilitation has decreased even more, so such a digital alternative is of particular importance.

      The VIGO app is designed as a personal rehabilitation assistant, which integrates artificial intelligence, remote physiotherapy, as well as modern motivation and patient support tools. It provides a wide range of physiotherapy exercises that are supplemented and adapted individually depending on the type and severity of the user's physical disability. They have been compiled in cooperation with the National Rehabilitation Centre "Vaivari". With the help of artificial intelligence, patients are provided with a text communication support tool or chat, which is based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy, conversations developed by certified psychologists and neuroscientists. It is designed to help motivate a patient and combat the effects of a stroke such as anxiety and depression. The VIGO app also contains a variety of useful daily-life information for stroke patients. Whereas, in order to further increase the patient's motivation and frequency of use, it also integrates some game elements.

      “We found it self-evident to support a technological innovation that makes it possible to address a health and social problem that has been snowballing over the years – making stroke rehabilitation accessible to those, who need it. I believe that the achievements of the determined developers of Vigo will gain recognition not only in Latvia, but also in the world, and, most importantly, will help to restore the quality of life for thousands of people,” is emphasised by LMT’s Vice-President Ingmārs Pūķis.
      The creators of VIGO emphasize that the first version of the application is currently available for a limited number of patients and people can apply for it on the website, reminding that the rehabilitation assistant VIGO is suitable for people who have not completely lost their physical or mental abilities. Before starting rehabilitation, each patient will receive an individual assessment of whether it is suitable for him/her. Due to the initially limited availability of VIGO, in case of high demand, patients will be gradually included in the program in the order of lodging of applications.

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