Year/Course: 2019-2020
Project type: Medical

Inventors: Dr Gerald Mako, Cambridge Motorics
Mentor: Bill Matthews

How to support ageing populations is one of the most pressing issues Europe and other parts of the world are facing; according to the UN, the percentage of people over 65 is expected to rise from 11.3% in 2005 to 18% in 2030 and in Japan the percentage of those over 65 was already 28.4% in 2018. As a result technologies to support this group are of increasing social and economic interest.

The inventors have developed a set of physical devices to train a range of fine motor skills in the hands and feet. Each device is designed to train a different set of specific movements, helping to improve muscle strength, muscle efficiency and muscle memory.

Initial trials of the devices were carried out with 1400 students with disabilities. These showed that after 30-60 minutes of training a day over a period of 6 months their muscle efficiency increased up to 250%. A project is underway with the Gates Foundation and UNDP in Turkey, investigating whether the devices can be used to increase the skills of young refugees by focusing on specific vocational skills such as sewing, packaging or other skills needed for factory assembly lines.

The inventors, however, feel that the greatest impact for the devices will be in the ageing sector, which is their primary interest.

The challenge for the Medical i-Team is to focus on the possible medical applications of the devices and approach. Building on the experiences of the initial triallists, are there specific neuromuscular disorders which would benefit from this approach? How would these devices fit alongside the current methods used to support an aging population, for rehabilitation activities, for independent living and for general support for people with disabilities or degenerative diseases? The i-Team will conduct interviews with relevant experts and advise on the best areas of focus, as well as looking at what proof points and strategies will be needed for the Cambridge Motorics solution to be accepted by medical professionals and patients.