Rehabilitation is an industry at the bottom of the medical chain, so even workers in the medical industry are unfamiliar with it. Very few people know that rehabilitation medicine is also one of the four kinds of medicine, and the remaining three kinds are preventive medicine, health care medicine, and clinical medicine. In 1969, the World Health Organization first defined rehabilitation medicine, which is to eliminate or reduce functional impairment of patients, and assist patients to resume work or functional capacity, and return to society.

Among those four kinds of medicine, rehabilitation medicine follows clinical medicine, which means that medical rehabilitation equipment is widely applied to post-clinical interventions for patients suffering from post-stroke rehabilitation (neurological damage and hemiplegia resulting from cerebral vascular blockage or rupture), post-operative orthopedic rehabilitation (limb damage and movement disorders due to various causes), neurological diseases (autism, cerebral palsy, and peripheral neurological damage), post-operative oncology, cardiopulmonary diseases, chronic pain, and sports injuries, etc. Though being “brought back to life” by clinical medicine, all these patients are undergoing uncomfortable lives. Therefore, they need medical rehabilitation equipment.

However, most ordinary people don’t think that way, and call rehabilitation a process that helps patients recover. They usually say “have a good rest and get well soon” when visiting patients in the hospital. What’s more, many medical reports believe that patients recover when the disease is cured. But it is obvious that rehabilitation medicine only intervenes after the disease has been cured (patients have been saved).

Rehabilitation system is a kind of equipment that helps patients with passive movement and daily activities and promotes recovery

In the China’s Medical Device Blue Book published by the National Institute of Medical Devices, medical devices are divided into four major categories by product characteristics, including medical equipment, in vitro diagnostics, high-value consumables, and low-value consumables. Several subcategories are contained in each category. Rehabilitation equipment belongs to medical equipment, but its representative products listed are sports rehabilitation, postpartum rehabilitation, postoperative rehabilitation, and neurological rehabilitation. China started to include medical rehabilitation equipment into the health insurance reimbursement system in 2011. In just a few years, a large number of international advanced rehabilitation medical equipment have been introduced into China together with advanced rehabilitation medical technologies, directly enhancing the treatment ability of China’s rehabilitation equipment. Previously applied to pediatric cerebral palsy, stroke hemiplegia, spinal cord paraplegia, and amputation, rehabilitation technologies have gradually expanded to pain rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, orthopedic rehabilitation, Chinese medicine rehabilitation, postpartum rehabilitation, accelerated rehabilitation surgery, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, geriatric rehabilitation, chronic disease rehabilitation, disabled rehabilitation, serious illness rehabilitation, pediatric rehabilitation, burn rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, spinal cord injury rehabilitation, and sports injury rehabilitation, etc. Changzhou Kondak Medical Rehabilitation Equipment Co., Ltd., a leading rehabilitation equipment manufacturer in China, has formed a rich product structure with 16 product series after years of development.

Materials and characteristics of rehabilitation equipment

Rehabilitation equipment and supplies are crossover technical products and involve biomedical, mechanical, electronic, computer, new materials and other technical fields. With the continuous development of science and technology, rehabilitation equipment will become informationized, intelligent, family-oriented, and individualized. 1. Informationized. The intelligent rehabilitation equipment industry, which applies Internet of Things (IoT) technology to rehabilitation equipment, will become one of the most important industries in the future. Intelligent rehabilitation creates a regional information platform for rehabilitation files and uses IoT technology and cloud computing technology to achieve interactions between people with functional disabilities and rehabilitation equipment and medical rehabilitation institutions, thus making rehabilitation system services gradually become informationized. With the growing popularization of smartphones, IoT technology also displays a trend toward the integration of smartphones to achieve intelligent remote rehabilitation, such as home safety monitoring and early warning for the elderly, and remote rehabilitation treatment and training. 2. Intelligent. Since rehabilitation devices are mainly used for patients with functional impairment, the automation of the devices and the intelligence of human-machine interaction with patients are of great significance to the use of rehabilitation devices. As computer technologies and artificial intelligence technologies advance, especially the international cutting-edge clinical research on brain-computer interface, medical rehabilitation equipment has become more automated and intelligent. 3. Family-oriented: With the continuous improvement of people’s living standards and health awareness, people are paying more attention to self-diagnosis, self-treatment, and self-care, and people use an increasing number of simple and easy-to-use rehabilitation and health care devices at home. Rehabilitation equipment manufacturers are also seeing more business opportunities in home rehabilitation equipment market due to the population aging. Meanwhile, the development of home rehabilitation devices echoes with the “prevention-oriented” principle advocated by the development of rehabilitation medicine. 4. Individualized. Rehabilitation is essentially an individualized service that has to meet different needs of people with functional disabilities due to differences in the degree of functional impairment, age, and body size. Customized medical devices and services for different people with disabilities will become crucial to improving rehabilitation quality, while posing challenges and bringing opportunities for rehabilitation equipment manufacturers.

Bottlenecks of rehabilitation equipment market in China

The medical rehabilitation equipment industry started late in China and is an emerging medical field in recent years, with a wide range of products, a large number of manufacturers, and a low market concentration. In terms of competition, high-end rehabilitation equipment is mainly monopolized by foreign countries, with imported products dominating the market and domestic rehabilitation equipment products being mainly imitations. Large Chinese manufacturers mainly include Xiangyu Medical, Lifotronic, and Kondak. The overall localization rate of China’s rehabilitation medical devices is high, but the localization rate of high-end rehabilitation medical devices is relatively low. According to the statistics of medical rehabilitation equipment on a medical platform, as of December 20, 2021, there are 5,013 valid products of medical rehabilitation equipment, of which more than 90% are domestic products. This platform also pointed out that medium and low-end products of China’s rehabilitation medical equipment have low unit prices but large scale, while high-end rehabilitation devices are still imported from overseas.

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