Penumbra’s REAL y-Series Ups Ante on VR’s Prominence In HealthTech

After dipping its toes into the world of VR via a joint venture with Sixense five years ago that blossomed into a full acquisition of the California-based company in 2021, stroke and brain aneurysm devicemaker Penumbra is following up on its recently introduced REAL i-Series in a major way. The initial offering, a VR headset with gaze navigation and activities designed to improve mental health and cognition, is being brought to the next level with the REAL y-Series, which adds lower body sensors in order to support a broader range of conditions.

“Two of the largest challenges in rehabilitation are maintaining patient motivation and lack of engagement,” said the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Penumbra’s healthcare segment, Gita Barry. “By enabling patients to immerse and visualize their entire body in motion and providing clinicians the ability to individualize each therapy session to challenge and motivate patients, we can maximize the key benefits of rehabilitation therapy.”

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While Penumbra has it work cut out in convincing customers to adopt the technology, many hospital and clinics in the U.S. have already leveraged it to address core and balance, cognition, functional uses, activities of daily living training (e.g., grocery shopping and self-care), and cognitive stimulation.

For the company, unmitigated success will depend heavily on wider market acceptance as well as the industry’s ability to shed some of the uglier stigmas associated with VR. Its annual financial filing hinted that it is still working out the best business model for bringing the technology to the forefront of the healthcare market.