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Dr. Pooja Viswanathan’s company, Braze Mobility Inc., has created blind-spot sensor systems for wheelchairs.SUPPLIED

People being treated for arthritis often struggle with pain between visits to doctors and physiotherapists. Now a smartphone app developed by eTreatMD, an AGE-WELL-supported startup, helps to fill that gap.

Called LiveWith Arthritis Plus, the app measures swelling and other physical changes in people with arthritis, using the device’s camera. Shanil Gunasekara, founder and chief executive of Vancouver-based eTreatMD, says it’s designed to promote quicker and more effective changes in treatment and reduce the need for people to get X-rays and ultrasounds. They can also learn how medications, diet and exercise affect their pain, while health-care providers can remotely assess their progress.

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Shanil Gunasekara’s company, eTreatMD, has developed a smartphone app that helps people with arthritis to manage and assess their condition better.SUPPLIED

Gunasekara notes that introducing new technology into the health-care system is extremely challenging. That’s where AGE-WELL, Canada’s technology and aging network, makes a difference. “Organizations like AGE-WELL really help from not only a funding perspective to bring technology to market, but also connecting us with a vast network of experts.”

Indeed the app was tested by a team of AGE-WELL researchers led by Simon Fraser University computer scientist Dr. Diane Gromala, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Computational Technologies for Transforming Pain. Their work, supported by the Arthritis Society, included conducting feasibility studies at a seniors’ home and two community centres in British Columbia and was instrumental in commercializing the arthritis-management app.

AGE-WELL supports over 50 AgeTech startups like eTreatMD that are commercializing and launching products, creating jobs and making sales. Their innovations are helping older adults stay independent, connected, safe and healthy, as well as supporting their caregivers.

These include:

  • Blind-spot sensor systems for wheelchairs: Braze Mobility Inc., a Toronto startup, has developed the world’s first sensors that can be added to any wheelchair to provide users with feedback about obstacles in their blind spots, increasing their awareness, safety and confidence in mobility.
  • Wearable technology for long-term care: Tenera Care of Halifax has created a platform that can help trace, reduce and prevent the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19 in seniors’ facilities by providing a read-out of everyone who has been in contact with an infected visitor, resident or care worker. The system can also “see” people moving around and alert staff if a resident falls, gets out of bed at night or goes into the wrong room.
  • A virtual gym for seniors’ workouts: An Edmonton startup, Virtual Gym, has developed a serious game platform that enables older adults to stay active. The system, which can be personalized to individual needs, guides people through customized fitness and rehabilitation moves and allows health-care professionals to monitor their activity and progress.

AGE-WELL nurtures startups through funding, competitions, mentorship, access to expert services and other supports, helping companies commercialize and bring their products to markets around the world.

Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, co-founder and CEO of Braze Mobility, says that as a first-time entrepreneur, it can be challenging to become established and get the word out.

“AGE-WELL was really critical in not only providing financial support but also in offering mentorship and connections, as well as visibility through their events and workshops,” she says. “Through all of these different resources, we were able to be very cost-efficient early on and actually get to market much faster than we otherwise would have.”

Dr. Viswanathan will share her experiences with growing a startup as one of more than 50 speakers at AgeTech Innovation Week, a free virtual event hosted by AGE-WELL from October 4 to 8, 2021.

Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications with AGE-WELL. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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