“Should I try rehabilitation exercises at home?” Future rehabilitation envisioned by ‘Exercite Care’

[Interview] Lee Sang-soo, CEO of iPixel, who developed ‘Exercite Care’

As the number of patients with musculoskeletal diseases increases due to the increase in the elderly population, interest is focused on at-home rehabilitation exercises that allow rehabilitation treatment to be continued naturally at home. Rehabilitation exercise is a way to prevent recurrence after surgery and help patients quickly return to daily life, but it is not easy to provide motivation to continue exercising and increase exercise efficiency without medical staff. 

There is a company that has solved the ‘unmet medical care’ area with artificial intelligence (AI) object recognition technology. ‘iPIXEL’ developed the AI rehabilitation exercise coaching solution ‘EXERCITE CARE’. iPIXEL has discovered a new area that combines rehabilitation and home training, a medical specialty, with the goal of ‘healthy life throughout the entire life cycle.’ 

Exercite Care is an AI rehabilitation exercise coaching service solution that allows medical staff to give rehabilitation exercise prescriptions to patients who need rehabilitation exercise or have musculoskeletal diseases. A rehabilitation exercise curriculum created by medical staff, physical therapists, exercise experts, etc. can provide customized prescriptions depending on the patient. 

The feature is that you can receive real-time feedback on rehabilitation exercises. It is also the only service that uses AI technology that runs on LG Smart TV. The TV-specific app can be downloaded and run, and consumers can experience AI-based exercise coaching on a large screen on the TV through a general webcam or smartphone. 

Through Exercite Care, iPIXEL plans to make diagnosis and prescriptions easier for medical staff and provide an efficient and effective environment for those in need of rehabilitation exercise to continue exercising. In addition, we plan to build a business model by challenging digital therapeutic device licensing and sharing revenue with medical institutions.

We met CEO Lee Sang-soo of iPixel, who won the ‘KHF Innovation Award’ at the recently held 2023 International Hospital and Health Tech Fair (K-HOSPITAL+HEALTH TECH FAIR with HIMSS 2023) with Exersite Care, and talked about the background of Exercite Care development and future direction.

I’m curious about the background behind the development of Exercite Care

It started with ‘HowFit’, a home training service using AI object recognition technology. Howfit also won the grand prize as the ‘Self-Development Application that Shined the Year 2021’ selected by Google Play. Then, I started receiving calls from medical institutions. There are still unmet medical needs in the areas of orthopedics, rehabilitation medicine, and surgical patient care. With support from the Ministry of Science and ICT, we conducted joint research with medical institutions and developed exercise care. 

Why did medical institutions pay attention to Exercite Care?

Actually, I thought rehabilitation exercise would be different from regular exercise, but it wasn’t much different. However, what the doctors paid attention to was whether they prescribed exercise to patients and followed the exercise instructions until their next visit. In fact, if you visit the hospital every day after surgery and do rehabilitation exercises like professional athletes, you can measure how much you have improved through exercise, but this is not possible for all patients. Moreover, since patients living in rural areas sometimes follow up after a month, it is not easy to know exactly whether there is improvement. I think it is useful that patients can continue rehabilitation exercises at home through exercise care and that they can provide immediate feedback on the effects of exercise improvement 

What is different from the existing practice of prescribing rehabilitation exercises?

Typically, hospitals provide paper guides with exercise tips depending on the patient’s disease. Once the exercise therapist or physical therapist teaches you how to exercise, you can return home and exercise until the next treatment date. Recently, an increasing number of hospitals are providing instructions on exercise methods through videos on their YouTube channels. However, even with this method, it is impossible to know how much exercise the patients ultimately performed. Exercise care provides exercise coaching according to a doctor’s prescription. At this time, the number of times per set for each exercise and rest time can be specified in detail according to the patient’s condition to create a customized exercise routine. Information such as how much the patient’s shoulder angle is improving after exercise, how many times the exercise was done, and at what time was collected. This data is collected and sent back to the hospital app. Doctors can view the exercise progress of patients when they visit the hospital and use it for research. Currently, Sejong Hospital is using Exercise Care for exercise therapy for rehabilitation patients. 

The people who actually use Exercite Care are also doctors. Is there anything focused on when developing a solution?

Diagnosis, prescription, and research areas remain with doctors. If doctors use iPixel’s technology to prescribe and create their own treatments, you can think of us as a platform that provides that technology. Therefore, if we receive approval for a digital treatment device in the future, we plan to build a business model in the form of sharing revenue with hospitals.

The goal is to live a healthy life throughout the entire life cycle. What does it mean?

As we live, degeneration of the musculoskeletal system occurs. Then, when you get injured, you go to the hospital for treatment and surgery, but the physical therapy that can be done at the hospital is limited to this. In the case of our country, where there is no care sector, it is a situation where no one can take care of the child after that. For example, if you are a hip joint surgery patient, your prognosis may vary depending on whether you return home and continue rehabilitation exercises, but there is currently no such system in place. Rehabilitation exercise cannot be replaced by medication. I believe that digital healthcare is something that provides continuous motivation to exercise and helps people manage their health.