Home-care arm rehabilitation

The MERLIN system uses a robotic assistant, software games and a remote connection to a therapist to allow post-stroke patients with upper-limb impairment to undergo physical rehabilitation at home. EIT Health is supporting testing that will help the innovation achieve approval for commercial distribution.


The EU has 5 million post-stroke patients who are suffering impairment of their upper limbs, and the estimated cost to medical systems and society totals more than €36 billion a year. After typical rehabilitaton, 65% of patients still cannot use the affected limb. There is a need to increase the effectiveness of the treatment and reduce its cost. MERLIN responds to this need, using a robotic assistant and a telecare platform to provide more effective, autonomous and scalable care.


Key experts include:

  • Research and innovation: Ainara Garzo and Thierry Keller of Tecnalia Research & Innovation.
  • Technology and business: Javier Téllez of GMV Soluciones Globales Internet.
  • Medical rehabilitation: Fernando Mayordomo and Pablo Casado of Servicio Andaluz de Salud, and Juha
  • Hijmans and Corry van der Sluis of University Medical Centre Groningen.
  • Medical devices manufacturing: Sasa Kocic of PROXIMA d.o.o.
  • Technology transfer: Gorka Hermoso of Tecnalia Ventures.
The project

The MERLIN project supports development of an innovative, clinically validated, affordable and easy-to-use solution to allow the patient to carry out intensive rehabilitation at home, while still enjoying close supervision and communication from their therapist. The improved feedback allows therapists to adjust each individual’s treatment, thereby improving effectiveness. And by eliminating the need to visit the therapist’s office, the system makes it more likely that patients will undertake more therapy sessions, which also increases the possibility of positive outcomes.

The system is composed of two existing independent assets:

  • an upper-limb rehabilitation robot that guides and measures movement and works in combination with computer games – developed under the brand ArmAssist;
  • a platorm called antari Home Care, which allows physicians to monitor the evolution of patients’ progress at home and to adapt the therapeutic plan accordingly.

EIT Health support allows integration and validation of the system in home settings, first in a usability test in Spain and then in an study of effectiveness in The Netherlands. EIT Health also supports advances in the CE marking procedure of the system and development of a business model and market strategy – to ensure success in the market.


For patients:

  • A 10-20% increase in the effectiveness of treatment.
  • A more than 50% reduction in visits.
  • Direct communication with the therapist.
  • Ability to manage their own health.

For physicians:

  • Continuous monitoring.
  • Ability to analyse the efficacy of therapy.

For payers:

  • More patients treated per physician.
  • Total cost of treatment reduced by more than 25%.
  • Improved quality of care.
  • Ability to monitor the efficacy of therapy.
Why this is an EIT Health project

This project is in keeping with the EIT Health Focus Area of “Bringing Care Home”, because it allows patients to work on their therapy at home. It is also in keeping with the Focus Area of “Care Pathways”, because it holds out promise of better results from therapy.

External partner:

PROXIMA d.o.o.

A video about ArmAssist


A video about antari Home Care

Patients using the ArmAssist will be able to practice when they like, where they like, as frequently as they like and as intensively as they like. This will provide them a feeling of independence regarding their recovery, which will contribute to well-being in the post-stroke period.

Clinical partner at The University Medical Center of Groningen (UMCG)

Ainara Garzo
| Project manager | Fundación TECNALIA Research & Innovation