MUJO: An innovative cure for joint pain
Perceptions of what healthcare engineering ‘is’ are often confined to the end products of research and innovation we encounter in hospitals. In reality, the field encompasses a breadth of research and technology that assist people in various ways at various times. An example of this is MUJO, a new ‘connected healthcare’ company providing focused rehabilitation of the major body joints. The Multiple Joint Fitness Systems, or MU.JO, combine smart exercise devices and cloud analytics to bring data-driven treatment to users.
What is MUJO?
MUJO is a focused rehabilitation solution founded on research conducted at Imperial College London. The core patented mechanism allows for loaded motions along multiple axes and planes. The NHS, private rehabilitation clinics, and professional sports teams, are all starting to use the system.
How it works
Exercises performed on the MUJO devices are bespoke to the user. Each device provides loaded resistance to the shoulder in two fully-independent planes of motion. This enables the user to move in both rotation and/or elevation directions. There are four sensors on each device, two tracking rotation movements and another two for elevation. As the user performs different motions, each sensor captures that movement information in the built-in iPad. This iPad then analyses the data, displaying real-time feedback on performed-versus-prescribed movements to the user.
In doing this, MUJO provides immediate feedback on how well users are performing the exercises, as well as on how they can improve. The first time a person uses the system, a trained physiotherapist leads the assessment. The physiotherapist will then use the resulting data to make an informed diagnosis and treatment plan which is entered via the software. After the initial session, patients can log in to their account using the devices, and access their personalised regime. The physiotherapist is able to access this information to track their patients, and remotely update the treatment if necessary.
On top of basic strength training, MUJO can also be used to improve a person’s motor control. This has a range of different applications across sports medicine and orthopaedics, as well as for both musculoskeletal and neurological disorders and injuries.
The implications of systems like MUJO
To treat patients more effectively, healthcare technology must be designed to not only support the patients themselves, but also the clinicians. On top of that, for practical application, you must also be able to show cost savings, which often involves reducing the overall load on the system. Meeting these criteria was central to our design ethos. Older models of physiotherapy treatment are very labour-intensive. Often, patients need constant and direct supervision to perform exercises correctly. As such, the patient-to-physiotherapist ratio is one of the key drivers in the telerehabilitation market. This is particularly true in economies like in China and India, with large-scale ageing populations. In a recent study, the MUJO system proved capable of reducing the burden on physiotherapists. Patients only need an initial setup with a physiotherapist. Thereafter, they can exercise independently.
The importance of investing in healthcare engineering
It’s an exciting time to be an engineer. In healthcare, the new wave of engineering innovation started with wearables. Now, it is extending to more complex medical grade devices and robotics as they capture data via embedded sensors, and run analytics in the cloud. In our area of healthcare, we see a world where a vast range of data is captured and combined. The ideal outcome of these engineering advances is bespoke treatments for every patient. To achieve this, copious datasets — including medication adherence, standard diagnostic tests such as imaging and treatment outcomes, and even the latest genetic tests and mental health status — are required. Once captured, this data will help to make treatment both more effective, and more efficient. Healthcare engineering is a space with considerable potential. Innovative work throughout the sector is helping to optimise the recording, analysis, and transmission of patient data. What’s more, as these innovations translate into commercial applications, this will only lead to better experiences for both patients and workers.
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