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FES-Rowing: Preventing the Secondary Conditions of Paralysis Through Vigorous Exercise

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41HD102267-01A1
Agency Tracking Number: R41HD102267
Amount: $212,235.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: NICHD
Solicitation Number: PA19-271
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2020
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-09-18
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-08-31
Small Business Information
747 SW 2ND AVE STE 342
Gainesville, FL 32601-6283
United States
DUNS: 078873484
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (352) 204-9066
Business Contact
Phone: (352) 204-9066
Research Institution
CHARLESTOWN, MA 02129-3109
United States

 Domestic Nonprofit Research Organization

Lack of exercise is a major cause of secondary health conditions, especially for people with paralysis, for
whom participation in physical activity is especially difficult. Hybrid functional electrical stimulation (H-
FES) exercise enables vigorous, total body physical activity for people with paralysis. However, existing
H-FES devices are neither affordable nor accessible, preventing widespread distribution of their benefits.
A new H-FES device is critically needed to promote widespread, sustainable physical activity outcomes
in the homes and communities of people with paralysis. Thus, the overall objective of this Phase I STTR
is to transfer the success of a particularly effective form of H-FES exercise, FES-assisted indoor rowing,
from the Spaulding Rehab ExPD Program to the homes of people with paralysis. The rationale underlying
this objective is that limited motor function, inaccessibility, and fewer opportunities to vigorously exercise
increase morbidity and mortality for people with paralysis, so a novel device that effectively addresses
these issues can reduce healthcare costs and improve both quantity and quality of life despite paralysis.
Successful completion of the following specific aims will accomplish the overall objective and demon-
strate the commercial feasibility of in-home FES-rowing: 1) discover and specify the user needs related
to FES-rowing at home, 2) modify an existing FES-rowing prototype based on unmet user needs, and 3)
validate that the new design meets home user needs. Aim 1 will be accomplished by surveying and
observing prospective customers, especially current participants in FES-rowing, regarding physical ac-
tivity and FES-rowing. The responses and observations will then be translated into technical design re-
quirements for the new FES-rowing system. Aim 2 will be accomplished by analyzing Spaulding’s existing
FES-rowing prototype to identify unmet design requirements, modifying the system to satisfy unmet de-
sign requirements, and building a next-generation prototype that incorporates the design modifications.
Finally, Aim 3 will be accomplished by validation of the new prototype with the participants from Aim 1.
The scientific premise of this project is that FES-rowing is the most appropriate and effective exercise
intervention for improving aerobic capacity in people with paralysis, which is strongly linked to the pre-
vention of secondary conditions. Thus, the development of an FES-rowing system suitable for commer-
cialization is significant because it could provide the general population of people with paralysis an ac-
cessible and effective means for preventing secondary conditions through vigorous, total body exercise.
Such effort is innovative because it represents a substantive departure from the status quo by making H-
FES exercise affordable and accessible, presenting new horizons for exercise-based preventive
healthcare for people with paralysis.PROJECT NARRATIVE
This project is relevant to public health because people with paralysis have higher cardiovascular-related
morbidity and mortality rates than the general population, largely due to secondary conditions that can
be prevented through appropriate and effective exercise. This project aims to reduce healthcare expend-
itures while improving both quantity and quality of life despite paralysis through exercise-based chronic
symptom management with an effective, accessible, and engaging FES-assisted indoor rowing device.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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