What is the society’s main goal?
IISART is dedicated to the advancement and promotion of modern healthcare technology in rehabilitation for the benefit of the patient, and society at large. IISART represents the interests of developers, manufacturers, and marketers of medical devices and their accessories, active capital medical equipment, and services in the field of robotics, virtual rehabilitation, and functional electrical stimulation.
Is there a personal story behind the establishment of the society?
At the ICORR 2009 in Kyoto, rumors were first heard that new standards for the ISO certification for rehabilitation robotics were soon to be announced. Gery Colombo, the current IISART president, thought this was a problem better solved together, and took the initiative to find partners with whom to collaborate. In 2011, at the first RehabWeek, the IISART was founded to become the “voice” of the industry for rehabilitation technology. Companies united to work on mutual interests and to influence important developments, also with regards to industry standards, with stronger negotiation power.
Why did your society decided to take part in the RehabWeek?
We have been aware for a long time of the lack of (scientific) communication in the field of rehabilitation technology between those designing and building the devices, and those using them with their patients. This lack of communication between device makers and device users is disastrous because successful inventions are always driven by the needs of the user, in our case, the clinicians and their patients. We knew, therefore, that if we wanted to advance rehabilitation technology to the next level, a platform was needed where all players in the field could be brought to the same table, to present and exchange ideas, receive feedback on their work, and build long term partnerships. RehabWeek is this platform, and it allows attendees to visit several conferences and meet with their peers all in one place, at the same time—instead of competing for attendees with individual conferences, RehabWeek brings them all together.
Why is RehabWeek unique and why should people attend?
RehabWeek is the most interdisciplinary conference in rehabilitation robotics. People should attend to learn about the field of advanced rehabilitation technology and exchange with other disciplines. Also, they only need to travel to one place and get to attend lectures from six different conferences, giving them a great value for their money.
What do you think will be the next big topic in the field? Why?
IISART is of the opinion that we have today only scratched the surface of potential developments in our field. Big things are yet to come, and the potential brought by new technologies like e.g. augmented reality, artificial intelligence, internet of things, or robotics is huge and still to be exploited. This will serve IISART’s ultimate mission to improve the lives of many patients around the world in the near future.
Any success story you would like to share?
The RehabWeek itself is a great success story. We have managed to bring the people to one table three times now. The third edition of the RehabWeek that took place July 17th to 21st, 2017, in London, UK was attended by over 1200 engineers, clinicians, and researchers who discussed the future of rehabilitation technology. At RehabWeek 2019 in Toronto, we expect a participant number of close to 2000, which is a great achievement.