Neurofenix, a healthtech startup with roots in the UK, has picked up a capital investment of €7 million to build out its product line, and kickstart clinical trials in the US. The startup is taking a pioneering patient-centric approach to recovery and at-home therapy that is proving to be more engaging and supportive.
While healthcare providers and services continue to be under sustained pressure across the world, digital innovations and cutting-edge tech are proving to be the solution to ensuring patients still receive the care they need. One area in healthcare that has been overlooked is the provision of rehabilitation care.
Healthtech startup Neurofenix is on a mission to improve rehabilitation for neurological patients – those who have suffered traumas like stroke, and brain and spinal cord injury. It’s thought that over 75% of stroke, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury patients face long-term disabilities because of insufficient neurorehabilitation and a shortage of occupational therapists. Furthermore, once patients are discharged, they’re even less likely to complete home therapy programmes due to a lack of engagement, monitoring or support. Too often, they are left behind by an overwhelmed healthcare system.
This is what Neurofenix aims to overcome – and the startup has just secured about €7 million.
The Series A round was led by AlbionVC, with additional participation by HTH, InHealth Ventures, and existing investors.
At the same time, founders Buxarrais and Athanasiou have brought together a team of 15 with pharmaceutical, clinical and healthcare commercial experience and are building out an advisory board which includes chairwoman Shirin Dehghan (operating partner at scale-up investor Frog Capital) and non-exec director Dr. Charles Carignan (former CMO of biomedical firm Boston Scientific).
This €7 million investment comes in addition to an undisclosed amount of seed funding.
Andrew Elder, Deputy Managing Partner at AlbionVC commented: “Neurofenix is poised to revolutionize physical recovery after a neurological injury, such as a stroke, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury. Its digital therapeutics platform, which can be used in rehabilitation clinics and by an individual bringing clinical-grade treatment into the home, which generates recovery of movement, strength, and activities of daily living faster and with better results. With my background as a neurosurgeon, I could see that Neurofenix is positioned to fill a major gap in the neuro-rehab industry.”
Neurofenix – market need
Founded in 2016, Neurofenix aims to transform how neurological rehabilitation is delivered to drive better outcomes and recovery for patients. While neurological damage can have long-lasting and life-altering consequences, it’s reported that in-patients only receive a few hours of rehab a week, due to shortages of occupational therapists, whilst at-home therapy programmes are unengaging and patients have little support once they are discharged.
This is not only demotivating and upsetting for patients, but the process is expensive too. In the UK more than 100,000 people have strokes a year, with care costing the NHS around £3 billion annually and the loss of productivity to the UK economy due to disability and informal care costing £4 billion. In the US, where around 795,000 people suffer from a stroke every year, rehab costs can reach over $17,000 a year per patient.
The UK-based startup has developed a clinical-grade and personalized rehab programme to overcome these challenges with rehabilitation care. Through the combination of sensor-based technology and a telemedicine platform, Neurofenix wants to improve the standard of care for neurological injury survivors and enable them to regain functionality and mobility.
The programme currently focuses on arm and hand therapy through its NeuroBall™ device. Designed with input from over 300 therapists and patients, the device is personalized to each patient based on their current needs and enables them to perform increasingly challenging, repetitive movements to help build up strength.
The advanced sensors detect the smallest of movements so it can be used by impaired patients, whilst the corresponding app has activities and digital games to engage patients to use it regularly. The real-time feedback means they can see their progress on leaderboards to help motivate them to continue.
Guillem Singla Buxarrais, CEO and Co-Founder, Neurofenix, said: “Over the last six years, we have been creating and developing our patient-centric sensor-based technology and platform to transform neuro-rehab. In clinical studies, NeuroBall was proven to motivate patients to do hundreds of movement repetitions independently at home, which led to significant improvements in the range of motion, reduction of arm pain and return to daily activities using their arm and hand after a stroke. This has proven transformative to neuro-rehab as previously patients would not have access to in-person physical or occupational therapy due to factors such as insurance, financial, transportation and health barriers.”
In three separate trials carried out at Brunel University London between 2017 and 2021, patients achieved 20x more movement repetitions at home compared to other methods and the portable nature means they can take it anywhere with them to help regain strength.
The NeuroBall is supported by the Neurofenix Portal, a bespoke telemedicine platform. Patients can carry out their rehab exercises at home and record the results on the Portal which enables remote patient monitoring.
Plans to expand
Neurofenix has developed a product that clearly makes a difference in the lives of thousands of patients and has the potential to enter a lucrative market as well as make a considerable positive impact. It’s also one of the few players in the space, combining clinically-validated neuro-rehab with patient-centric proprietary tech.
Dr. Charles Carignan, MD and Neurofenix board member, said: “Around 900,000 people in the US and UK experience a stroke every year, and most do not recover to their full potential physically, due to the lack of access to intensive physical and occupational therapy. I was blown away by what NeuroBall could provide to aid a patient’s recovery, including the utility for the hand or arm, the sensors, software and gamification. This is just the start of the Neurofenix journey as a sophisticated neuro-rehab program.”
With this new funding, the startup wants to head to the US, with plans to develop the product line and embark on US clinical trials.
Guillem Singla Buxarrais added: “We’re excited to partner with AlbionVC, HTH, and InHealth Ventures, and are hugely grateful for their support to scale our unique neurological therapeutics platform that we believe will change the world of neuro-rehab.”