A London-based digital health startup Kaia Health has raised $10 million in Series-A round of funding which offers app based training for chronic pain management. The startup founded in 2015 provides ‘mind-body therapy’ to patients suffering from musculoskeletal disorders. The idea is to offer mobile technology based alternative therapy which includes medical education, psychological techniques and guided physical exercises.
The CEO and co-founder of Kaia Health, Konstantin Mehl said that the app is useful for chronic pain patients suffering acute pain for 2-3 days. He said that as the physical therapy for pain management is usually expensive because of physiotherapist fees, only 2% of patients suffering acute pain receive any kind of professional help while the rest 98% extensively rely on pain killers and surgery. The treatment is very ineffective as well as expensive.
Mr. Mehl said that the traditional therapy for chronic pain management includes the patient receiving a one-on-one physiotherapy session for weeks. The patient has to visit the physiotherapist personally and has to pay handsome fees. Instead of this hassle, Kaia Health has developed a personal trainer app which uses computer vision technology to provide guided exercise and pain management techniques by a fully autonomous exercise coach. The app visually monitors the user as they are performing the exercises and gives vocal feedbacks if they are wrongly doing a certain move or exercise.
Kaia’s goal is to reduce the use of pharmaceuticals for pain relief as over-prescription of opioid drugs have escalated into a nationwide epidemic and rise in the number of opioid overdose deaths. The app based approach gives flexibility to users for exercise timings. As many people don’t like to go to physiotherapist every time for an exercise session and also don’t find it comfortable to practice at home without instruction, the app based monitoring helps them get live feedback.
The company released an app called Squat Challenge which taught an exercise called squat, only to see how people use the technology. And then the startup tracked all possible body positions to provide improvising suggestions. It took nearly six months to track all body positions and now Mr. Mehl claims that they have successfully added all the body positions. He added that the app now can correct any exercise and movements on millimeter basis.
Competitors in the app-based pain management field includes another startup Hinge Health. Their approach also involves an app along with wearable sensors to monitor body movements, however quite different from Kaia’s automated sensor free AI approach. Mehl said that they have tried working with wearable sensors but found that users are usually disinclined towards putting sensors on body while doing exercises. As a result they decided against the use of sensors and relied more on Artificial Intelligence based personal training.
The Series-A round of investment was led by Balderton Capital. The new funding will be used to scaling up in the USA with new office in New York. Kaia is currently used by 250,000 users in Europe and USA.