Scientific title:
SBRI Healthcare - Competition 18 - Stroke and Technology
Principal investigator:
Grant value:
Research ID:
Research area:
Start date:
Monday 6 December 2021
End date:
Monday 6 June 2022
6 months
Year awarded:

Why is this funding needed?

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the UK and worldwide. It’s estimated that stroke costs the UK £26billion per year. This cost includes money required for life-changing emergency treatments as well as long-term care, and care provided by informal carers, such as family and friends. 

Research and development of technologies can reduce this cost by improving treatment and care for people affected by stroke. Regardless of the cost, stroke has a devastating impact on a person’s life, and many stroke survivors and their carers don’t receive the support they need. These projects will develop new technologies that hold hope for improving care for people affected by stroke and increasing access to it.

The projects will also tackle unanswered questions established in the Stroke Priority Setting Partnership that brought together people affected by stroke and professionals working in stroke care. Research to improve recognition and response to stroke or TIA, as well as resource and organise community stroke services are top priorities that these projects can address through the development of new technologies.

Why is the Stroke Association working with SBRI Healthcare?

Our charity has limited funds for research. However, by collaborating with SBRI Healthcare, our charity can drive more funding into stroke where it might have been invested elsewhere. 

SBRI Healthcare’s aim is to get the industry to:

  • Improve patient care.
  • Increase efficiency in and enable the NHS to tackle healthcare challenges.
  • Improve the UK economy by supporting research and development.

SBRI Healthcare is funded by NHS England and Improvement and supported by the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). You can find out more about the organisation in a webinar about the launch of this funding.

Also, as our charity has built close connections with the stroke community, including people affected by stroke and researchers, we can connect people with different expertise and contribute our own to support research that will improve the lives of people affected by stroke.

Lee, a stroke survivor member of the Stroke Voices in Research group said: “I was on the panel of experts that decided which awards would be funded. My expertise helped me understand which projects could best address issues that patients face. It also showed how patient involvement and participation in the project can improve research and the development of the technologies. Overall, the experience was really uplifting and interesting. I look forward to finding out how the projects progress.”

What projects were funded?

Improving stroke diagnosis to prevent death and disability

M-Trust Imagine Limited
Ultrasound imaging is used for many health procedures to look inside the body, and it’s fast, affordable and safe. However, it isn’t powerful enough to see into the brain through the skull. “Full-waveform inversion” uses advanced computational techniques to improve the clarity of ultrasound images. It could help paramedics understand what is shown in an ultrasound image of the brain. The team hope to test how this technology can be used with ultrasound to understand images of the brain.

Pockit Diagnostics
Large artery stroke patients can have a thrombectomy, which dramatically decreases disability caused by stroke. However, they must be diagnosed quickly. Pockit Diagnostics have shown that two chemicals in the blood can identify patients with this type of stroke. The team hope to test 100 prototype blood tests to understand if the device could be used by paramedics to detect large artery stroke patients that could have a thrombectomy.

Improving treatment and care for rehabilitation and life after stroke

Digital support systems
Imperial College London
OnTrack is a new digital rehabilitation system that was co-developed with stroke survivors and healthcare professionals. It uses technology to support stroke survivors with upper limb rehabilitation by providing activity feedback and remote coaching.
The team hope to:
  • Add improvement learned from previous testing with stroke survivors and design pilot testing to understand how OnTrack could be used in the NHS.
  • Work towards scaling-up use of OnTrack by getting regulatory approvals and planning for commercialisation.
Cognitant Group Limited
There’s lots of information about stroke, but it’s hard for patients and their families to find the right information at the time that it’s useful to them. ‘My Stroke Companion’ hub could provide high-quality, personalised and shareable information about stroke for stroke survivors, carers and those close to them to support them to access services and peer support. The team hope to work with patients, the public and healthcare professionals to develop the hub via the Public, Patient Involvement and Engagement team at UCLH and clinicians.
Medical Data Solutions and Services Ltd
Stroke survivors can have complex rehabilitation needs and require assistance from healthcare professionals for a long time after their stroke. However, this can be a challenge to arrange and costly, therefore remote monitoring could be helpful. Healthcare professionals and people affected by stroke could communicate through digital platforms to improve management and help in getting stroke survivors support earlier when they need it. The team already have systems to support patients with other conditions in the NHS and they hope to:
  • Develop MARS (Monitoring Arm Recovery after Stroke), a new support system for rehabilitation of arm function after stroke.
  • Do an early-stage evaluation of the technology to understand its impact on stroke survivors, healthcare professionals and costs of care.

Virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation at home 

NeuroVirt Limited
NeuroVirt aims to improve movement rehabilitation by providing fun and usable games in virtual reality which could increase the amount of time and the intensity of treatment at home or in the hospitals. This can also be monitored to help physiotherapists give more individualised advice for rehabilitation. The team hope to co-design and develop NeuroVirt’s game features with physiotherapists and stroke survivors.
Evolv Rehabilitation Technologies
EvolvRehab provides a virtual environment where stroke survivors can play games to help them practice at home whilst receiving feedback from a healthcare professional to meet their upper limb rehabilitation goals. The team hope to develop two virtual therapies for arm rehabilitation and test them with 5 stroke survivors. They also hope to understand how the therapy could be used in the NHS including associated costs. 
Muscle stimulation to improve mobility 
Odstock Medical Limited
The team will develop a new muscle stimulator that can support people affected by stroke, as well as other conditions that affect physical abilities. Mainly the device could improve walking and reduce the risk of tripping by helping people to lift their feet. The team hope to plan a prototype of their new device and prepare for regulatory approval for its testing.
Remote vision testing for stroke rehabilitation 
IbisVision Limited
Stroke can impact a survivor's vision however this is often not diagnosed and stroke survivors can go without support, even holding back their rehabilitation. IbisVision have developed a platform that can enable eye specialists to remotely assess stroke survivors. The team hope to add to the platform so it:
  • Includes a range of vision tests.
  • Could be used for stroke survivors with a range of severity of impairment.
Predicting patient outcome and long-term needs 
Brainomix Limited 
It could be helpful to have information on how a stroke survivor may recover or the impairments they may have to determine the support they require. Stroke survivors and those close to them also often ask for information about their future and what recovery may be like. Brainomix have developed artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled tools so doctors can get more information about the health of the brain and therefore recovery from stroke. The team hope to develop a new tool that can predict long-term outcome for stroke survivors.

What will happen next?

It’s important that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and other organisations working with researchers, people affected by stroke, and health and social care professionals have funding to develop and test their innovative ideas at an early stage. The evidence gathered through these projects can prove that the idea will turn into a real-life improvement for stroke survivors. 
This funding is for the first phase of development and evidence collection. If successful, the organisations will then apply for the second phase where more funds can support further development and testing.