Inspired by his father’s stroke rehabilitation, this young Montrealer has developed a virtual rehabilitation software program for stroke victims

Justin Tan lives a busy life. He’s pouring over financial charts at his downtown Montreal office and set to catch a flight to meet with investors in Seattle in just a few hours. Par for the course for any CEO of a company, but this one is just 24 year old.

Even he’s surprised at his success, since it all started out as a school project in his final year at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “After my final presentation, some investors actually came up to me and said, ‘you know this is a brilliant idea, why don’t you push it forward.”

He put med school plans on hold and started creating Jintronix, a virtual rehabilitation software program for stroke victims. It was born out of Justin’s passion for playing video games and a family tragedy. “Well – I must admit I used to play quite a few video games and still do. So it was really through the process of my personal passions and seeing my father through a lot of those exercises himself, and looking at those two experiences. It’s not really difficult to bridge the gap.”

“some investors actually came up to me and said,
‘you know this is a brilliant idea, why don’t you push it forward.”

His father, well-known Montreal fertility Doctor Seang Lin Tan, had a devastating stroke 10 years ago and found his rehabilitation exercises tedious and home visits from a therapist, expensive. “I wanted to create something that was more interesting. Something that patients could use and engage in in a more interesting fashion,” says Tan.

So he “gamified” the exercises. Using Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensing technology and any kind of home computer, the system is calibrated to the patient’s range of motion.

The infrared camera captures the person’s movements and shows them in a small box at the bottom of the screen. So while the patient is sitting in a chair and playing various games on-screen, they’re doing their rehab exercises at the same time.

For instance, one game has the player virtually moving a fish in the water, gulping down food. The patient must move their arm in various figurations, such as a box or a figure eight, typical in rehab exercises.

Tan says the games don’t replace a therapist. He says they simply enhance the therapy and reduce the number of face-to-face visits, and would be cheaper for the patient in the long run.

The clinician can also follow the patient’s progress online. “Patients and clinicians are going to be able to sign up to our websites. We’re going to hold webinars and online seminars to present the software to them. If they like it we give them a link and they can download our software.” The program would be subscription-based, but Tan hasn’t figured out the fee just yet.

Tan has about 1.5 million dollars in seed money to develop the idea. For now the program is for stroke victims, but he says one day it could be applied to any other kind of therapy including sports therapy.

“I do have a very sincere interest in the health care field and in medicine, but I really think the future is in developing technologies that bridge the gap and make things a lot more cost effective.”

The launch of this system to the public will happen this summer. After that he says, the possibilities are endless.