Dr. Eric Dusseux, CEO of BIONIK Laboratories – Interview Series
Dr. Eric Dusseux, is the CEO of BIONIK Laboratories, a global pioneering healthcare company on a mission to supply quality-of-life solutions to those with movement impairments. They have a goal of enabling the growing millions of people with movement-impairments to lead fuller and more independent lives by fostering hope, recovery and independence with evidence-based technologies, spanning the continuum of rehabilitation care.
Prior to joining Bionik, Dr. Dusseux was President of Europe and a director for Auregen BioTherapeutics SA, a 3D bioprinting tissue engineering biotechnology company headquartered in Switzerland, that he formed while at Bemido SA, a family office, with the support of Gurnet Point Capital and Waypoint.
You’ve had a distinguished career having worked in Europe, the United States and now Canada. What was it that attracted you to becoming both a board member and the CEO of BIONIK Laboratories?
I was drawn to becoming a board member and Chief Executive Officer of BIONIK Laboratories, having offices in the U.S. in Boston, Massachusetts and in Canada, in Toronto, Ontario for a few key reasons. First was the promise of a major public health impact by the company’s innovative Artificial Intelligence technology used in physical therapy in rehabilitation: worldwide, more than 15M patients a year suffer a stroke. Additionally, the company’s focus on evidence-based medical results above all else was very attractive and continues to be one of the company’s guiding principles.
How would you best describe the mission of BIONIK Laboratories?
The mission of BIONIK Laboratories is to empower the continuously-growing millions of people with movement impairments to live fuller and more independent lives by fostering hope, recovery and independence with evidence-based technologies, spanning the continuum of rehabilitation care.
One of BIONIK’s core products is the InMotion ARM™ which enables patients to regain motor function following a neurological condition or injury. Could you give us some details on what types of injuries it is best suited for and how it works?
The BIONIK Laboratories InMotion ARM™ has proven effective for many motor impairments including stroke, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, hemiplegic shoulder pain and muscle spasticity.
Using the InMotion ARM™, patients complete a series of therapeutic tasks on a screen. This is an evidence-based neurorehabilitation technology that offers patients real-time Assistance-as-Needed™, our proprietary solution that quietly monitors patients’ movements during physical therapy and gently assists them as needed, to help complete and record movements more accurately than human therapists can by themselves.
BIONIK also offers InMotion EVAL™, could you give us details on this product?
InMotion EVAL™ is our evaluation and reporting system, which carefully analyzes patient movement and motor control so clinicians can distinguish recovery from compensation, and ultimately determine the progress, the need for medical care and whether or not patients should continue treatment based on gains. It is a powerful tool for therapists to explain progress to their patients and for hospital administrators to demonstrate to payers the progress already accomplished by patients, and if needed, the reason to enlarge the duration of their stay and continue the treatment.
Advanced robotic technology is used in all BIONIK products, could you give some details on some of the machine learning and robotics that are used?
BIONIK’s InMotion robots use artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide patients with over 600 to 1,000 discrete movements for each session. Our digital algorithm detects patient upper limb performance identifying patients that may be struggling with their movements by measuring 200 times a second the position, the speed and the acceleration of the upper limb, and providing optimum arm movements that help patients succeed. By adjusting to each patient’s needs in real time, this technology allows patients to perform more recorded movements per session than they could during human-only therapy.
How have medical practitioners reacted to BIONIK products?
The response to BIONIK products from medical practitioners has been positive and that is validated by the widespread adoption of our technology. It is used in the U.S. by hospital chains including Kindred Healthcare, one of the largest contract management organizations, as well as in more than 15 countries globally.
What was it that initially attracted you to pursue medicine?
First of all, my very first answer to the question “what job would you like to do, Eric?” was to be medical doctor and help human beings in an incredibly significant way. As I grew up, I could not imagine doing something else and I discovered that Medicine science was fascinating, so I simultaneously studied Medicine and physical chemistry to better understand and dig deeper. After a few years in hospitals, emergency wards, cardiology and mobile emergency units, I decided to specialize in public health and epidemiology, and earned an MBA to have an even greater impact on the health conditions of populations by pulling new levers in strategy and operational leadership roles.
Are there any interesting recovery stories from patients that you could share?
One of the most common concerns for patients who have had a stroke is returning to functional use of the involved arm. In the case of one of our successful patients, Marie Elise, a woman treated by the team of clinicians at Saint Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Overland Park, Kansas, this aspect of improvement was notable.
Marie Elise had her stroke 10 years prior to her treatment with the InMotion ARM™ and used the device in Occupational Therapy following Botox injections provided by her physician to normalize the tone of her spastic arm.
At the time of her interview, she made an interesting observation about the InMotion system, stating, “It has directed my brain to force my arm to reconnect with the movements.” In addition, she noted “yesterday I was at the doctor’s office, there was a magazine, and I couldn’t reach it, but I could scoot it close enough (indicating use of her involved right arm) that I could grab it with my left hand.”
Have you noticed any improvements with a patient’s self-esteem after using BIONIK products?
That same patient, Marie Elise, said about the unique reporting system of the InMotion ARM™, “It was only when I saw the report at the end that, well yeah, she was right!” referring to the feedback she had been getting from her therapist.
“I am so pleased with the combination of the robot and my therapist because it is very good,” she said.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about BIONIK Laboratories?
BIONIK is on a never-ending mission to bring the lives of millions of movement-impaired individuals back on the road to recovery, as movement plays an essential role in each of our very existences. At BIONIK, we continue to find ways to become more accessible and meaningful to rehabilitation clinics. The move to enhance the connectivity of our line of InMotion robotic solutions with the soon to start introduction of InMotion ConnectTM will only further solidified therapists’ access to meaningful therapeutic protocols and actionable clinical data presented in customized dashboards, even having the potential to allow hospitals to share data with the caring families of their patients. In the long run, we are working to develop an even more portable and accessible solution, which could be applied across the continuum of care from In-patient Rehab to Out-patient to Skilled Nursing Facilities and Homes. We see the need for more treatment at home, and with the COVID-19 pandemic emerges an even greater need for telemedicine. As financial and regulatory barriers evolve, so will the technology.
Thank you for the interview, I believe you are truly building products that have the potential to change lives. Readers who wish to learn more should visit BIONIK Laboratories.