2022/02/15 | Research | Rehabilitation & Neural Engineering

SwissNeuroRehab selected as Flagship

The Department of Neurology at the Inselspital and the ARTORG Center are part of the SwissNeuroRehab Consortium, a Flagship project funded by Innosuisse. The funding scheme Flagship was launched in 2021 by the Swiss innovation agency. SwissNeuroRehab is among the 15 supported projects that were selected from 84 submissions. It is financed with a total of 11.2 MCHF over 5 years, 5.9 MCHF from Innosuisse and the rest from the implementation partners.

Prof. Dr. med. René Müri and Prof. Dr. med. Adrian Guggisberg, Neurorehabilitation, Department of Neurology Inselspital, and Prof. Dr. Tobias Nef, ARTORG Center, University of Bern, are part of the Bern team for SwissNeuroRehab. (© Insel Gruppe & ARTORG Center)

SwissNeuroRehab aims at developing a novel model of neurorehabilitation along the continuum of care, from the hospital to home. In the first phase, the project that will be led by the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) will focus on stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. Through the partnership between university hospitals, research centers, neurorehabilitation clinics, therapists and the industry, SwissNeuroRehab will combine the best available approaches for neurorehabilitation with new digital and technological methods to create innovative and efficient therapeutic programs tailored to the individual needs of patients and their families.

Project scope and background

Every year in Switzerland, 15,000 people suffer from a stroke, 5000 from a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury and 150 from a spinal cord injury. Often, the deficits have a significant detrimental effect on everyday function and life, and require intensive neurorehabilitation. Neurorehabilitation is provided by multidisciplinary teams of physical, occupational and speech therapists, as well as neuropsychologists, nurses and medical doctors, working together to rehabilitate locomotion, dexterity, language, memory, attention or behavioral control. Usually, patients receive a period of intense high-dose neurorehabilitation in a specialized clinic, and then return home. However, the dose and intensity of current outpatient and home neurorehabilitation are often insufficient and the care is predominantly disconnected from the in-patient programs, due to organizational and reimbursement issues. This contrasts with the scientific evidence and international guidelines underlining the fundamental value of intensity and frequency of tailored rehabilitation programs along the continuum of care for maximizing patients’ recovery.

To address this challenge, an unprecedented consortium within the neurorehabilitation landscape in Switzerland has been created, bringing together: four university hospitals (Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich), collaborating with key rehabilitation clinics (the SUVA Bellikon, the SUVA Clinic romande de réadapation Sion, Lavigny Hospital, Valens  Clinics and RehaKlinik Zihlschlacht) and their association (Plateform-reha); outpatient clinical providers (Swiss Rehabilitation, Physio Clinics, and EMS Le Marronier); the two federal technical schools EPFL and ETHZ; the Universities of Lausanne, Geneva and Bern, the University of Applied Science of Western Switzerland (HES-SO) and the School of Engineering and Management of the Canton Vaud (HEIG-VD); leading companies in neurotechnology (Hocoma, Lambda, MyoSwiss, Onward) and digital therapies (MindMaze) for neurorehabilitation; industrial partners working on digital solutions for data management and protection (CARA and Pryv); educational providers for healthcare professionals (Espace Compétences) and patients (Medicol).

Initiated and coordinated by the CHUV in Lausanne, SwissNeuroRehab will develop and validate an effective and efficient model of neurorehabilitation along the continuum of care in Switzerland. A patient-centered model will specify the clinical, operational and economic needs to treat physical and cognitive deficits after stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. State-of-the-art, evidence-based therapeutic programs integrating digital therapeutics and neurotechnology will be validated and implemented into the clinical routine through interdisciplinary cooperation between researchers, clinicians and the industry. An inter-cantonal economic analysis will propose a reimbursement system for the new model of neurorehabilitation. Novel educational curricula will be created for healthcare professionals, decision makers, patients and caregivers. The model will offer a long-term solution for the Swiss society to address the challenges due to the increasing prevalence of neurological disorders in the ageing society.