Tech designed to address lack of access to rehab specialists in rural Alberta

Tele-Rehab 2.0 is a VRP (virtual rehabilitation platform) system that uses motion capture, sensors and cameras to collect a patient's data and send it to a clinician in an urban centre.

The robotics lab at the University of Alberta has developed technology to connect rural patients with rehabilitation specialists hundreds of kilometres away.  

Tele-Rehab 2.0 uses what's called virtual rehabilitation platform, or VRP.

The system sends data collected from motion capture, sensors and cameras to a clinician in a city, who then assesses the patient.

"We are collecting data that we don’t collect in face-to-face assessment," said U of A rehab medicine professor Martin Ferguson-Pell.

The technology aims to address the fact that 24 per cent of Albertans live outside major cities. The Tele-Rehab team estimates about one million people in the province don't have access to specialized rehabilitation services in their own communities.

As well, Ferguson-Pell expects Tele-Rehab 2.0 "to improve our ability to demonstrate the value of these kinds of assessments, not just for patients in rural and remote Alberta but also in face- to-face assessments as well."

Tele-Rehab 2.0 will first be put to work in Jasper, Grande Prairie and Peace River in March.