Irvine, California-based stroke rehabilitation startup Flint Rehab has received $1.72 million in additional grant funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a division of the NIH.
The 15-person company adds to its previous NIH funding grants, which now totals $8 million over eight years. The new capital will be directed at further developing their FitMi device to add more rehabilitation capabilities and research new potential enhancements to the product.
Research will be conducted to compare the clinical benefit in rehab of doing repetitive daily tasks against exercises that approximate components of the activity.
Flint Rehab CEO and co-founder Nizan Friedman said his background in academia and research has informed the company’s strategy of pursuing government grants as a non-dilutive funding strategy.
“The NIH Small Business Innovation Research program kind of bills itself as America’s seed fund and helps you get off the ground and vet your technology through research,” Friedman said. “For companies focused on more tech-y, research-y products its an amazing pathway.”
Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and survivors need consistent support and rehabilitation to regain functionality after a stroke event. The problem is that adherence to conventional home-based rehab programs is low due to a lack of motivation and frustration in seeing long-term progress.
Flint positions their products as an engaging way for patients to perform and meet their rehab therapy goals. It also has created a community of stroke survivors online to help with the social aspect to recovery and building motivation.
FitMi consists of two hockey puck sized devices that are used to track user movement ad perform home-based rehabilitation therapy. The device counts repetitions and monitors the long term progress of patients.
FitMi is often used in conjunction with Flint’s MusicGlove’s device, which works to improve the hand and finger function necessary to rebuild fine motor skills and manual dexterity.
While FitMi and MusicGlove are offered for purchase directly to consumers, each have an enterprise version sold to rehab clinics that allow clinicians to create custom treatment regimens for patients.
The company’s products are FDA-listed as Class 1 low-risk medical devices.
Most recently, the company launched its MiGo wearable at CES, which is an activity tracker specifically designed to help stroke survivors regain their independence by encouraging users to activate their impaired limbs.
Flint isn’t the only company hoping to use technology to improve stroke rehabilitation with competitors that include San Francisco-based Neofect and Cognivive, a Sacramento, California startup using games as a digital therapeutic for stroke recovery.
Where Flint has tried to differentiate itself is by targeting the at-home therapy market, which Friedman said positions the company well as reimbursement and continuing care models move out of the clinic and into patient homes.
“Typically a stroke survivor will be discharged after a couple weeks and the rehab modality is still a sheet of paper with some exercises,” Friedman said. “That’s pretty ridiculous in the 21st century.”
Moving forward, Friedman said the company is hoping to move into the adjacent brain injury and spinal cord injury market and continue its international expansion in markets like Australia, South Africa, India, Singapore and Europe.
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