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Dartmouth Engineering Startup Receives $1.8M NIH Grant for Remote Exercise Monitoring System

Sep 13, 2023

SynchroHealth, a startup co-founded by Dartmouth Engineering professor Ryan Halter, was awarded a $1.8 million Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from NIH's National Institute on Aging. The award builds on a Phase I grant to develop BandPass, a remote-sensing resistance exercise band and app that allows healthcare providers to monitor, evaluate, and guide patients as they conduct home-based exercise programs.

"BandPass represents a unique tool to help clinicians monitor and treat age-related muscle loss," says Halter. "We've taken a human-centered design approach to developing and optimizing this technology for use by both patients and clinicians. We plan to leverage these NIH funds to help us refine the product and conduct an important clinical trial to demonstrate efficacy."

"It has already shown promising results with high accuracy and reliability during the pilot study we ran here at UNC as part of our Phase I award," said research team member John Batsis, MD, associate professor in medicine at University of North Carolina (UNC). Batsis is a former Dartmouth professor—now an adjunct professor of The Dartmouth Institute—who joined the UNC Department of Medicine's division of geriatrics in 2020. "With this award and continued collaboration, there is great potential to springboard BandPass into a commercial product," he added.

Image courtesy of SynchroHealth.

The Bluetooth-enabled device is being designed specifically for the treatment of age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia, which affects almost 15 percent of adults over the age of 60. BandPass aims to enhance a patient's ability to perform exercises at home through enhanced motivation to promote muscular growth. The device will help identify exercise correctness and alert the clinician if patients are not conducting their exercises—addressing the challenges of low compliance and self-reporting bias identified in over 60% of programs.

This two-year Phase II STTR grant will enable SynchroHealth researchers to further enhance this prototype and finalize a mobile application and cloud-based service for data transmission, processing, and storage. The team plans to obtain robust data through a randomized clinical trial on a cohort of 39 patients to obtain feedback and assess their strength.

SynchroHealth was created in 2020 by Halter (principal investigator), and former Dartmouth students, Sue Mohieldin '19 Th'20 and Curtis Petersen. "BandPass started out as Mohieldin's undergraduate honor's thesis project at Thayer and has moved quickly down the translational pathway," says Halter.

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