Technology Meets Recovery to Get You Moving Again! with David Wu, CEO of Motus Nova


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By Mariah Morgan & Eryn Martin, Mariah Morgan, and Eryn Martin. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Looking for new ways to regain movement after stroke or brain injury? Does your recovery feel stalled? Are you tired of the limited amount of time and number of rehab session insurance will cover? Do you feel like the healthcare system just isn’t giving you enough to regain movement? Look no further, Motus Nova may be a solution for you! In this episode, we interview David Wu, CEO of Motus Nova. This company is responsible for providing a robotic hand or foot that uses fun video games to create neural pathways that will get you moving again! When conventional rehabilitation is too slow, Motus is the answer for stroke recovery: a home based program revolutionizing stroke rehabilitation whether you are ten days or ten years after brain injury.

Covered in this episode:

  • What is Motus Nova
  • A robotic exoskeleton that helps people move again
  • A sleeve or a boot that you wear around your hand or foot
  • It is capable of moving on its on providing resistance or assistance
  • Recreastes the in-clinic rehab experience
  • Mission is to increase access to rehab for stroke or brain injury survivors
  • They work on the concept of neuroplasticity
  • They have found that people don’t get enough rehab. This allows a higher dosage of rehab
  • How can you access it?
  • In-clinic initially but they realized this didn’t increase access
  • Insurance only allows for a limited number of visits per week
  • Science says the brain needs 100s-1000s of hours of therapy to make neuroplastic changes
  • They re-engineered the Motus Hand and Motus Foot to go directly into the home. Each user has a personal device they can use at their convenience in their home. Go to to learn more on how you can access it!
  • Some users are treating rehab as their full time job doing 6-7 hours of therapy a day which allows them to achieve tremendous results
  • For the proactive survivor tackling recovery this is an amazing solution!
  • Motivation aspect of recovery
  • They make rehab more fun and more engaging so people want to use it
  • The exercises and movements of therapy are hidden in video games
  • I.e. you are controlling a spaceship and have to dodge objects being launched at you. The game requires you to do certain movements needed for your recovery in a fun way
  • Games resemble Pong, Galaga, Space Invaders, fishing, cards--they have many games that make recovery fun and less monotonous
  • The goal is to make this enjoyable so that it is something you look forward to and want to do at any time.
  • There is a social element too--high scores, group sessions, competition
  • This type of therapy takes away the need to schedule appointments, hit insurance stipulations, find transportation, etc..
  • Learning from clinical trials impacted how they provide their services
  • Motus Nova with the VA--VA was having difficulty getting rehab to rural brain injury survivors. Motus Nova brought devices to the survivor and would check up with them on a weekly basis. What they found beyond physical recovery was this addressed the social isolation aspect of rehab.
  • Survivors were calling not to troubleshoot the technology but to talk and share their experiences
  • This learning inspired Motus Nova to start weekly sessions for users to join virtually, share experiences, ask stroke related questions to experienced clinicians, support each other, trouble shoot, and experience the product together
  • Motus Nova is an established rehab program that has a proven virtual method of rehab.
  • They’re pioneers in remote rehab. Their system was established before Covid. It wasn’t thrown together to meet a Covid need.
  • Covid has helped to open up insurances to virtual therapy options.
  • What to expect with a Motus Nova Hand or Foot
  • The device has sensors that get a gage for how much motion and strength you have
  • It also has active assistance. It can move the user into postures and sense if there is more tone or spasticity. The device makes a judgement call on what type of movement and intensity of movement you can handle
  • There is an on screen clinician as well
  • Games
  • They have many games that are reminiscent of video games of the 90s: games that will remind you of Pong, Space Invaders, etc.
  • They also have newer type games that are like Guitar Hero
  • Users that succeed with Motus Nova
  • This is for people who are motivated and able to treat rehab like a full time job
  • The device is based on putting in many hours to create new neural networks
  • They feature users on their socials
  • Heather out of South Carolina was 14 years out of stroke when she started using the Motus Nova hand. She had no functional hand movement in her hand. After about 6 weeks of using the device (100s of hours or rehab, 6-7 hours/day), she was able to open her hand and start to grasp. Now she is able to use her hand to eat, cook, make a sandwich, open doors, etc…
  • She put in the time and the work. There is no shortcut or magic pill.
  • Those that have positive attitudes to get better and push themselves are the ones that are successful over time.
  • Repetition makes the difference!
  • You need to have attention and focus while using the device. You can’t just let the hand or foot move you while you do something else.
  • This is not like a self riding bike or self playing piano--you won’t learn how to ride a bike or play the piano if the device does it for you
  • You need to be actively engaged for the brain to create a new network
  • Chris Dittrich uses these devices (remember him from episode 5? Keep Moving Forward!)
  • The device keeps reports and shows you the progress you make as you put in the hours. This helps to show you the gains over time and motivates you to keep going.
  • Anyone, any age can benefit
  • Who could benefit from this?
  • Do you need a certain amount of movement to start using the Motus hand or Motus foot?
  • You can have little to no movement up to having more movement and needing help with fine motor skills
  • The sensors on board do an assessment and adjust to what is right for you
  • The sensors are constantly reading out how much movement you have and make sure the movements are appropriate. It adjusts to you in the moment. It will make it harder or easier depending on what it senses from you. As fatigue sets in it adjusts to that. If it senses you have a little more, it adjusts to that.
  • It looks at your progress and the trajectory to sense when there may be a little more to give you a challenge when you are ready
  • Do you need to be tech savvy to use it? No!
  • They have users who don’t even know how to turn on a computer use this
  • It is an out-of-the-box experience. Very easy!
  • Why did David join the brain injury club?
  • David started on the tech side. He was involved with getting the devices to rural veterans. He got to see how the devices really impacted people and helped them.
  • Then he saw how the healthcare system was preventing and restraining the technology from helping more people.
  • He saw people who were wheelchair bound use the Motus Foot and start walking!
  • Seeing all this potential led him to attack figuring out how to get the devices into more peoples’ hands and get the healthcare system on board
  • Check out to see the device. Seeing is understanding!
  • Facebook group is open to anyone, even non users. There are clinicians and scientists that are there to answer any questions related to recovery
  • Their Instagram page has lots of videos, check it out!
  • Stroke Power Hour: Clinician run sessions to answer any questions Caregivers and survivors are invited. It is free. You don’t need to be a user. 3x/week MWF evenings.

Links to any resources mentioned:

Stroke Power Hour on Facebook, Live Sessions Monday, Wednesday, Friday evenings.


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