Rehabilitation Patent Technology for an Aging Society
- Rapid Increase in Patent Applications related to Rehabilitation Assistance Equipment for Aging People -
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), during the most recent 5 years (2014-2018), patent applications related to rehabilitation assistance equipment involved 686 cases, a 69% increase over the 406 cases of the 5 previous years (2009-2013). Among these, patent applications related to rehabilitation assistance equipment for aging people have rapidly increased from 64 cases (16% in total) to 151 cases (22% in total).
<Application Trends per Year for Rehabilitation Assistance Equipment (‘09~’18)>
* The number of applications for rehabilitation equipment for aging people in 2018 (16 cases) includes only published/registered patent applications.
Reviewing patent applications (151 cases) by applicant in relation to rehabilitation assistance equipment for aging people during the most recent 5 years, 46% were from universities and national institutes (70 cases), 23% were from medium and small sized enterprises (35 cases), 16% were from large companies (24 cases) and 13% from individuals (20 cases).
<Classification of Rehabilitation Assistance Equipment for Aging People (‘14~’18, 151 cases)>
[By Applicant] [By Technology]
By technology, it is shown that applications related to muscle strengthening through repeated training of arms and legs constituted 51% (77) of cases, applications related to cognitive function or nerve function such as sense of balance in walking made up 32% (49) of cases, and applications related to skeleton muscle relaxation made up 11% (17).
Reviewing the most recent patent technology related to stroke (as a typical example disease found in aging people), a representative wearing of rehabilitation equipment is wherein if a patient wears a glove on his/her non-paralyzed side and then moves joints when hemiplegia occurs in arms or legs, positions and motion profiles of the glove are measured by 3 dimensional sensors and the paralyzed side is symmetrically trained.
Also, in the case of Parkinson’s disease accompanied by a decrease in walking ability, if a patient wears head mounted-type walking assistance equipment, the surrounding environment including obstacles is seen in augmented reality in front of the eyes, and the position of the next step is visually guided via laser. Also, several robotic-type walking ability assisting equipment involving the legs or a moving board has been developed.
Meanwhile, rehabilitation assistance equipment related to dementia was mainly composed of types presenting simple tasks and measuring them for the purpose of prevention. Patent technologies for evaluating, time taken to insert a stick into boards the multiple light sources printed out in sequence, accuracy and pattern memory, etc. have been developed.
The Home Life Examination Department at KIPO stated, “In consideration that the percent of aged people will reach 20% within 5~6 years from now in Korea, development of rehabilitation assistance equipment in specialized form for these aging people will be required.”