Scientific title:
Using technology to increase activity during inpatient rehabilitation: initial evaluation of a Virtual Engagement Rehabilitation Assistant (VERA)
University of Central Lancashire (Academic partner)
Principal investigator:
Dr Kathryn Jarvis / Citrus Suite Ltd
Grant value:
Research ID:
Collaborate to Innovate
Research area:
Start date:
Monday 14 September 2020
End date:
Saturday 30 April 2022
12 months
Year awarded:

Our charity is working in partnership with MedCity, an organisation that promotes investment and business in life science. We’re funding projects that bring together researchers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to develop digital technologies or medical devices which will improve stroke diagnosis or support people to rebuild their lives after stroke.  

You can read about one of the projects below.

Why is this research needed?

Stroke strikes in the brain, the body’s control centre. Its devastating effects change lives in an instant but rehabilitation can help people to recover and adapt to live the best life they can after stroke.  
Unfortunately, very few stroke survivors receive enough rehabilitation therapy in the weeks and months following their stroke, or in the longer-term.  
The Virtual Engagement Rehabilitation Assistant (VERA) is a new technology in the early stages of development. It could be used by stroke survivors as a personalised planner, providing them with information and reminders about their treatment, and a way to track their progress in between therapy sessions.  
Healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists, could use VERA to provide personalised exercises, information and check a person’s progress.  
But, before VERA can be recommended for stroke survivors, more research is needed to improve its design and find out more about the difference it could make to people affected by stroke.  

What are the project team hoping to do?

The project team will work with stroke survivors and healthcare professionals to improve the design of VERA and get a better understanding of how it can be used for rehabilitation. For example, they’ll collect information on whether stroke survivors like using VERA and how frequently different people use different features of the new technology.  
They’ll then collect information and test VERA to find out if it can be used by stroke survivors staying in rehabilitation treatment centres, and what difference it could make to their recovery and quality of life. 
By collecting information from stroke survivors and healthcare professionals about VERA, the new technology can be improved. But before VERA can be offered as a treatment, more studies will be needed to find out how effective this technology could be in helping stroke survivors. This study can provide vital evidence to build the foundation for these future studies.

What difference can this project make to the lives of those affected by stroke?

By creating a new digital technology that can empower and encourage stroke survivors to learn and practice rehabilitation therapies on their own, this project could: 

  • Increase the amount of time stroke survivors spend on therapy. 
  • Increase the availability of rehabilitation therapy to stroke survivors. 
  • Help healthcare professionals use their time most efficiently. 
  • Save money for the NHS.

Who is in the project team?

Citrus Suite is a company that designs and develops technology that gives information and instructions needed for mobile apps, websites and other digital technologies to work. This is called software. The company aims to work closely with the people they hope will use their new technologies. This project looks to further develop and test their product, VERA.  
Citrus Suit will be working with Dr Jarvis, an occupational therapist and researcher at the University of Lancashire. Her expertise will help: 

  • Find out what can help, and what may hinder the use of VERA with stroke survivors staying at treatment centres to receive rehabilitation.  
  • Together with healthcare professionals working in stroke, she will develop a package of support, such as training materials that can help them use VERA in their work.  
  • Find out what stroke survivor and healthcare professionals think about using VERA, how it is used in a stroke rehabilitation treatment centre, and how to test the difference it could make to recovery and quality of life for stroke survivors.