Muvr Labs Brings Wearable Technology to Joint Replacement Recovery

By Heather Tunstall

Post-surgical recovery for orthopedic patients requires a regimen of physical therapy to improve strength or range of motion. Often, however, a number of obstacles prevent full recovery, including a patient’s other ailments or disabilities, lack of motivation to complete exercises and communication breakdowns among the care delivery team and patients.

Muvr Labs seeks to deliver a recovery solution that includes wearable devices, measuring and monitoring tools and greater interaction among the surgeon, physical therapist and patient.

“Muvr is a full-stack recovery company,” said Robert Winder, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Muvr Labs. “That means that we have physical therapists to treat patients; we have technology that assists in the treatment of the patients, including wearable sensors and an app; and we also have technology that helps physical therapists get scheduled and optimize the route that therapists take when they’re going to treat patients in their homes.”

The company’s mission is to deliver as much technology as possible into the physical therapy space to optimize the therapy itself, the care given to the patient and the back office aspects, like scheduling and billing.

Muvr’s first focus is on total hip and knee replacements, and they aim to benefit surgeons engaging in joint replacement bundled payments by handling post-surgery monitoring and rehab.

“Roughly one-third of the cost of the total reimbursement that a surgeon receives for a hip or a knee [procedure] is taken up in post-acute care,” Winder said. “That is a combination of home health, physical therapy and potential discharge and other auxiliary post-acute care costs. Muvr’s treatment model sends physical therapists to patients’ homes. We remove the requirement for home health because effectively we’re doing physical therapy from day one after discharge, so we can significantly reduce the overall cost of post-acute care.”

Muvr offers surgeons a flat fee model, no matter where or how often a patient is treated, allowing for a predictable cost.

The Physical Therapy Aspect

The main application for Muvr’s technology is wearable sensors with a smartphone or tablet app. The sensors collect kinematic data as the patient moves. The movement is tracked through the sensors, and the data is used to determine the formal physical therapy that the patient needs. The data is then presented to the surgeon and the physical therapist.

“The primary problem that it solves is the delivery of a standard of care that is not currently available,” Winder said. “Today, physical therapists are very much independent of the orthopedic surgeon. Patients are given a list of physical therapists to go see, and they have no idea which therapist is the best to go to. What we do is deliver a consistent standard of care.”

When patients are with a physical therapist, they typically understand the expectations of their exercises. Once they return home, they may not know whether they are doing the exercises properly and may lose confidence, choosing not to follow the recovery protocol.

With Muvr, a surgeon will refer a patient to Muvr for physical therapy, allowing the care team and the patient to stay connected prior to and after surgery.

“We send a therapist out to the home to do a baseline the week prior to surgery, which collects kinematic data,” Winder said. “We use that kinematic data throughout the course of care, but we’re also doing an onboarding, a home inspection to make sure that we are able to take care of them and they’re able to take care of themselves in their home environment after surgery, and they’re not in any danger.”

The Wearable Sensor Technology

Muvr is a technology company at heart, with applications specific to orthopedic recovery. Winder’s co-founder, Pablo Abad, Ph.D., is a Stanford and Caltech-educated engineer who worked on Mars Rovers to deliver deep mathematical solutions to problems, such as controlling a robot from millions of miles away.

One of the big challenges at the core of Muvr’s technology and IP are wearable sensors. Typically, accelerometers and gyroscopes are placed on robots, fixed by technicians and immovable. But Muvr’s technology is unique in how it accurately processes signals on a moving body.

“With human anatomy, you have a BMI anywhere from 23 at the low end to 35-plus at the high end, and the sensor itself moves with every motion,” Winder said. “How do you guarantee accuracy if you don’t have a technician there to be able to deploy those sensors? That’s where the specific IP that we have developed enables us to put the sensor on the body, and within a matter of seconds, know exactly where that sensor is placed to within one degree of accuracy.”

Surgeons in San Francisco are currently employing Muvr’s system, and the company is expanding into Massachusetts in the immediate future. Further implementation across the U.S. is expected to follow, Winder said.

“Today we work with hip and knee patients, but we see a lot of other opportunities across the entirety of the orthopedic surgery spectrum,” he said.

Heather Tunstall is an ORTHOWORLD Contributing Editor.

Tags: Care Delivery