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Jul 21

London-based RehabWeek 2017 showcases latest innovations in rehabilitation technology

Today marks the end of four busy and successful days which bought together over 1,200 renowned engineers, clinicians, basic researchers and industry leaders working in the field of rehabilitation technology for RehabWeek 2017

  • This was the third RehabWeek and it took place in London 17th-20th July, combining four international conferences to encourage cross-disciplinary exchange; International Neurorehabilitation Symposium (INRS), International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), Annual Meeting of the International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society (IFESS) and British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine (BSRM) meeting.

    The intention of RehabWeek was that these conferences were integrated and attendees were encouraged to participate in a combination of sessions from each. The benefits of this approach became apparent throughout the week, as the emphasis remained on collaboration and interaction. Attendees were able to network and share ideas with colleagues from different specialities that were still motivated by the same overall goal to bring rehabilitation technologies to patients. The diverse and interdisciplinary nature of RehabWeek only worked to strengthen that end goal.

  • The structure of the week included many scheduled events, talks and workshops but there was also space throughout for attendees to view posters, interact and discuss ideas more freely. The week began with a welcome address from the chair Dr Rui Loureiro and co-chairs Dr Gery Colombo, Dr Thierry Keller and Prof Diane Playford. The following days included six keynote speeches from world leaders in rehabilitation research and multiple workshop sessions, ranging from a focus on advancements made within functional electrical stimulation to ways to optimise human robot interaction in wearable robotic devices. All sessions shared the same aim of patient impact and rehabilitation of movement.

    RehabWeek also attracted over 730 poster submissions and 522 were selected to be displayed across four floors throughout the week. This vast representation invited lively discussion on the variety of topics covered. The best of these submissions were invited to pitch their posters in a Fast Forward poster session to the whole audience, with just sixty seconds each to convince attendees to go and view their poster to learn more. The week culminated with lab and clinic visits on the Friday to view some of the flagship projects going on, such as the Aspire Create lab at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH).

  • Continuing with the atmosphere of collaboration, there was a real effort throughout the week to bring together industry and research. Exciting demonstrations and new technologies from industry exhibitors included exoskeletons, virtual reality systems and novel prosthetics that were available on all floors. It was stressed by many speakers that if research does not cross the translational path then it will never be able to impact patients, and so a fruitful exchange between industry and research is needed in order to make clinical and at home use of innovations a reality for patients. This ties in nicely to the general theme of RehabWeek 2017 which was “translation and clinical delivery”. The ultimate focus of discussions consistently returned to how best to deliver impact for patients and maximise their recovery for real-life, everyday activities like drinking and eating.

    Moving forward, it is hoped that the week will have galvanised experts to tackle the challenges ahead within the field of rehabilitation technology. In particular, organisers used their address to point out that nearly a third of conference registrations were from young scientists and students, and they urged this younger generation of attendees to use RehabWeek 2017 as a springboard to inspire future work.