Case Study

Helping ABI Patients Recover Daily Activity

Here's how we're helping to improve the quality of life for the 5.3 million Americans who suffer from an ABI.

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Over 280,000 people in the U.S. alone are hospitalized due to acquired brain injuries resulting from accidents, injuries, or other traumas1. After a hospital stay, these patients often join the 5.3 million Americans living with an ABI-related disability1.

ABI-related rehabilitation efforts typically focus on the recovery of the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), like brushing teeth or eating meals. As patients practice ADLs, occupational therapists work with them every step of the way by providing support and feedback. 

Through our work with physicians and allied health professionals, they've shared with us that feedback while attempting ADLs is a cornerstone of the recovery process for ABI patients. Unfortunately, access to occupational therapy (OT) treatment is often hampered due to high costs and limited insurance coverage. If there was a way to provide additional focused feedback, many patients could increase their quality of life and recover daily independence. 

The Solution

Battelle biomedical engineer Sam Colachis channeled his personal experience with ABI and passion for nervous system injury patients into a revolutionary closed-loop solution that provides critical biofeedback as patients practice functional activities. Using a camera and object recognition technology, Activity AssistantTM provides interactive, real-time feedback as patients complete real-life tasks similar to activities done during occupational therapy. 

By combining tactile manipulation of real-world objects, immediate feedback, and error correction intelligence, Activity AssistantTM closely mimics the experience of in-person occupational therapy. Activity AssistantTM can even determine the type of patient error and adjust the difficulty of the activity as patients progress.

Photo: Computer simulation of Activity Assistant technology


Activity AssistantTM is engineered to expand on traditional rehabilitation and provides key advantages for patients, caregivers, therapists and physicians alike.

  1. Enables assessment and monitoring of patient progress for different ADLs by tracking metrics like reaction time, task completion time and error rates. Healthcare professionals can use this data to better inform treatment. 
  2. Increases recovery opportunities by enabling patients to practice ADL skills outside of occupational therapy sessions.
  3. Allows for flexible use, with system portability and patient autonomy making Activity AssistantTM equally suited for the home or clinical environments. 
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The Outcome

Battelle has developed a beta version of the device and is currently testing it with moderate-to-severe ABI patients in a small feasibility study at The Ohio State University Medical Center. The Battelle team is now working on integrating additional ADLs into the program and further optimizing the device.

The next step will be a larger clinical study to validate the technology as both an assessment and rehabilitation tool for ABI patients so that it can be transitioned from the lab and into the clinic for eventual productization.


1. Thurman, D. J., Alverson, A., Browne, D., Dunn, K. A., Guerrero, J., Johnson, R., Johnson, V., Langlois, J., Pilkey, D., Sniezek, J. E., Toal, S., ... & National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (1999). Report to Congress: Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States.

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