Combining fun and healthcare: Playing Video Games for physical rehabilitation

Ronja Schrimpf

Startup Stories

Over time, video games started plenty discussions and triggered many different opinions. Debates often focused only on negative effects, leaving out advantages or opportunities of playing video games alone or with people from all over the world. The startup Raccoon used a very positive side effect, connecting video games with healthcare: Special gaming equipment like controllers help patient’s physical rehabilitation after injuries and neurological diseases. Their tool ‘Raccoon.Recovery’ helps with patient’s physical rehabilitation and offers many advantages for patients, as the homepage reveals:

  • Gamification for patient motivation and retention during the full course
  • More effective treatment thanks to tracking of patient’s progress
  • Automation and digitization of examination Tests and reports
  • Possibility to use for remote rehab (telerehabilitation) with remote monitoring

In an interview with 5-HT, Svitlana Malovana speaks of Raccoon’s story, starting as a manufacture for controllers and finding their unique selling proposition.

“60% of our users had injuries or strokes”

“We started working together in November 2016. We used to manufacture controllers for video games, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Soon we found out that about 60% of our users had injuries or strokes before”, remembers Svitlana Malovana, CEO of Raccoon, “We tried to figure out why we have such a specific audience. Their hands were injured, so they could not use a classical mouse or a keyboard. That’s why they prefer our solution for different tasks in video games, but also for work or social tasks.”

With Racoon’s special controllers, handicapped people are able to do tasks with their hands, too: By remodifying the commands, Raccoon helps people play video games who have problems with wrist motor skills. For example, to jump with your game character, you only need to move the controller in a certain direction.

But advantages of Racoon’s controllers go even further: “We found out that patient’s rehabilitation was much faster when using our controllers compared to the rehabilitation of patients who don’t use such controllers.” The idea of Raccoon.Recovery was found.

“Our long vision is to have full body rehabilitation solutions”

In February 2018, Raccoon started manufacturing and creating solutions for physical rehabilitation after injuries and neurological diseases, limited for hand rehabilitation for the time being.

“We decided to start with hand rehabilitation, because we already had controllers”, explains Svitlana, “It is good to provide such possibilities like controllers to use instead of a classical mouse or keyboards, but it is not enough for a full physical rehabilitation. We want to provide full digital therapies to help people find personal goals and reach them. That is why, with the help of practicing physiotherapists, we elaborated a full-scale digitalization for rehab process. The software that comes with controllers allows therapists to do examination tests, create the therapy course, remotely monitor the patient’s progress and automatically make reports. Our long vision is also to have full body rehabilitation solutions. For this we will use special sensors to be located on other parts of the body.

The solution is also collecting Big Data with more than 50 parameters, including heart rate, fatigue and physical data about movement or pressure of fingers”, explains Svitlana. Combining patient’s physical data with information about the content the patient is using and what the patient is doing in this very moment in the game, Raccoon uses Machine Learning algorithms to find out types of patterns. Then, Raccoon creates mistake-proof courses on their basis and predict their longevity.

“We are the dreamers. Those with the unique possibility to make dreams come true.”

Raccoon’s main company is located in the USA, where their first costumers for video game controllers are located. To take root in Europe, too, Raccoon started to focus on the German market first. Germany was chosen as the first EU country to enter because of huge lack of physiotherapists (one of TOP 3 lacking professionals) and growing quantity of population in need of physical rehab. Providing their special equipment for rehabilitation clinics for free, Raccoon is financed by subscription fees.

18 ‘Raccoons’ are working to reach their vision of full body rehabilitation solutions, among them physiotherapists, neurologists, data scientists, software and hardware developers, specialists in marketing, sales and a data engineer. The team is both from Ukraine and Germany. In the moment Raccoon is looking for a community manager and a sales manager, too.

The core team

“On the one hand, Patients can control their results and see how close they are to their personal goals”, explains Svitlana, “On the other hand, Raccoon saves time for physiotherapists and provides them only the information and results that matters for rehabilitation. As a result, physiotherapists can treat more patients at a time.” As initial testing in rehab centres show, this can increase revenue for rehab centres up to +150%. Besides rehab centres, Raccoon has special propositions for self-employed physiotherapists, research institutes and people in need of rehabilitation. Their varied possibilities for different stakeholders probably are the reason why the team of Raccoon refers themselves on their website as ‘Dreamers’ with the unique possibility to make dreams come true.

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