“Walking Rehabilitation support tool Tree” that responds to the needs of medical and nursing care. Promotion of development for mass production in collaboration with large companiesReif Co.,Ltd


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The walking rehabilitation support tool Tree leverages the spherical drive module, a proprietary technology of the company

Points to remember

  • Develop a walking rehabilitation support tool Tree based on spherical drive module, a proprietary technology
  • Contribute to the motivation of users and reduce the burden on instructors with Tree
  • Focus on the development with funding, sales and production support from large enterprises for mass production of Tree

Reif Co., Ltd. was founded in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture in 2008, the company developed the basic technology called “Spherical drive module” after its establishment. The spherical drive module is equipped with a sphere at the bottom of the device and can freely move 360 degrees by spinning around. In the case of tires, the change of course in the diagonal direction takes place along a curve, but spherical drives can move in a straight line along the shortest distance.

The company focused on the aging society while developing new products using this spherical drive module. Since the population aging rate in Kitakyushu City is high, it was considered that the need for medical and nursing care in the region would increase in the future.

In 2009, the company started the development of the “Walking rehabilitation support tool Tree”. The company jointly developed Tree along with Miyamoto Laboratory and Kaori Yoshida Laboratory of the Graduate School of Life Science and Systems Engineering, Kyushu Institute of Technology and Professor Hashimoto Takashi, Kyushu Nutrition Welfare University Kokura Minami Ward Campus, who is also a physiotherapist. Though the prototype was completed in 2012, they continued to make improvements with feedback from the field, and it is offered to some medical institutions as a “Clinical research model”.

The Tree eliminates the need to support users, reduces the physical burden on instructors, and promotes functional recovery rehabilitation for those who require walking training due to cerebral vascular diseases, and bone and joint disease of the foot.

The conventional rehabilitation method for walking was a burden on the instructor or physiotherapist as they have to instruct, count the number of steps, and measure the walking time while supporting the body of the person undergoing rehabilitation.
However, using Tree, the user can hold the handle of the Tree and walk by looking at the reflection of the position of their feet and target location for the next step on the screen. Since the user need not look at their feet, they can practice walking with a good posture without having to look down.
The tree is equipped with sensors to detect the load on the handle, the load on the soles of both feet, and the position of the feet. While displaying the data in real time, based on the rehabilitation settings of each user, The Tree unit indicates and issues voice instructions such as estimated stride. It has been well received as it reduces the physical and mental burden of instructors and enables them to concentrate more on specialized instructions. The Tree unit makes it easy even for users to understand the level of functional recovery as they are always provided with consistent training without being affected by the skill level of different instructors. Some people say, “Rehabilitation has become fun” as the feeling of recovery leads to additional motivation.

Users can walk with a good posture as they walk by looking at the screen.

The company which is a startup takes up development by visiting the sites to understand the needs. They visit the field multiple times, listen to the opinions, and excel at making improvements and materializing the prototypes. “Selling” is more difficult than “Manufacturing” not only for startups but also for small and medium-sized enterprises. For sales, the company wants to take the help of large companies with mass production capabilities.

For the mass production of Tree, the company was successful in partnering with a large company. The company has received a capital investment of 280 million yen from the “Mirai Creation Fund” which is funded by Toyota Motor Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Oita SME Growth Fund managed by Oita Bank, Paramount Bed Co., Ltd., and Dai-ichi Seiko Co., Ltd., a manufacturer of electronic components. The company will also focus on improving the development of mass production models in cooperation with paramount beds for sales and Dai-ichi Seiko Co., Ltd., for production.

The Changi General Hospital in Singapore has adopted the Tree unit as a medical device, and they are conducting joint research along with the company. The company is eyeing the possibility to expand not only in Asia but also in Europe using this opportunity as a foothold.
In the future, using the designation of Kitakyushu City as a “National Strategic Special Zone” for the development of nursing care robots in 2016 as a support, they want to promote more development projects not only for the Tree unit but also other projects that can solve problems in healthcare, rehabilitation and nursing care.

Interview Date: March 20, 2019


company information

We have know-how on ball wheel drive technologies, small multi-axial arms, small/medium special mechanical devices, and other medical care rehabilitation robot production, and strive to realize new ideas based on user perspectives from planning to prototype development. Located in Kitakyushu, our company is engaged in advance R&D targeting the world. We respect the opinions of each individual to give shape to ideas.

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