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February 5, 2015

Former Steeler launches startup with Pitt

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Charlie Batch, along with several partners, has formed a new partnership with Pitt and the Innovation Institute to launch a wellness, fitness, human-performance and rehabilitation-focused company.

The Pittsburgh-based startup, called Impellia, will develop and commercialize Pitt-created technologies and other technologies from around the country.

As part of the new relationship, Impellia has completed option agreements for three University innovations. All three have been shepherded to the verge of commercialization by both the faculty members who developed the technologies and the University’s Innovation Institute, which is dedicated to promoting and fostering innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship.

Cofounders of Impellia include Richard Walker, an attorney, software executive and lifelong friend of Batch; Dave Morin, a serial health care technology entrepreneur and international speaker on health care technology, and Ed Kim, a veteran startup and technology company executive.

The three Pitt technologies the Impellia team chose to option for their company are:

• interACTION: A joint-function monitoring tool to be used to improve physical rehabilitation from injury. Sensors placed on either side of a joint collect data regarding motion. The data are stored on a smartphone or tablet, where they are analyzed and displayed to a patient and physical therapist.

Patients following personalized exercise programs receive interactive guidance from their physical therapist and can see their own progress toward recovery.

The Web-based software permits local or remote therapists to follow the patient’s progress, streamline the use of clinical resources and increase the number of patients with whom an individual therapist can work.

The tool was developed by Kevin Bell, Michael McClincy and James Irrgang of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the School of Medicine, and Robert Hartman of the School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Alumnus Bernard Bechara also contributed to the tool.

• PIVOT: PIVOT is meant to be used on a tablet computer to quantitatively assess the pivot shift test, the most specific clinical exam for diagnosing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in the knee.

Markers are applied to three bony knee landmarks. The PIVOT test is performed by a physician, and the markers relay information regarding knee movement to the app, removing some of the risk of human error in the diagnostic process.

PIVOT was created by Volker Musahl, James Irrgang and Freddie Fu of the School of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Richard Debski of the Department of Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering. Former orthopaedics research fellows Yuichi Hoshino and Paulo Araujo also contributed to the project.

• Versatile and Integrated System for Telerehabilitation (VISYTER): This software platform can be the base for developing telerehabilitation applications. A secure, integrated system that combines high-quality videoconferencing and access to electronic health records, stimuli presentation, remote multi-camera control and other tools, VISYTER can be used to assess myriad ailments remotely.

VISYTER was created by Bambang Parmanto, Andi Saptono and Wayan Pulantara, all of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.