SmarTrac can help alleviate shortage of physical therapists


Physical therapy can make the difference for a quick post-surgery recovery.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is experiencing an extreme shortage of physical therapists that is only expected to get worse, according to a UW-Madison computer sciences professor and entrepreneur.

“The demand of physical therapy right now is incredible, yet, underappreciated unless you are in the field,” said Prof. Suman Banerjee.

Banerjee recognized this opportunity to tap into unmet needs with the technology he had been researching for the past four and a half years. He has since started OnTracMD, a company pioneering the patent-pending technology called SmarTrac to alleviate the burden from the scarcity of trained professionals.

SmarTrac, the wearable device, consists of a sensor, mobile app and a cloud-hosted web portal that accurately tracks the motion of an individual’s limbs. The precise and real-time measurements of the sensor not only allow physical therapists an ability to scale up their practices, but it creates a much more convenient consumer experience. 

“People don’t realize how important physical therapy is,” Banerjee said. “This neglect often results in patients not completing their full physical therapy treatment.”

SmarTrac can solve this predicament for the patient. Preliminary studies are underway to demonstrate how SmarTrac reduces recovery time by the effective ability to monitor specific body movements on top of supporting compliance.

Banerjee is not new to innovation and levering computer science to solve problems in the world of startups. Past successes include WiRover, a software platform that delivers high-bandwidth internet services to moving vehicles. WiRover won the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest in 2011 and has since been used by the Wisconsin Metro Transit System and with Van Galder Bus Company. 

When asked how his experience has helped navigate the concept of this latest device, Banerjee explained: “Technology is only one piece, but circumstances are a huge factor.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated movement towards virtual healthcare — a path already being followed by the OnTracMD team.

“This will be the future of physical therapy,” Banerjee said. “COVID-19 has only emphasized the need for such tele-rehab software, further supporting the goal of OnTracMD to change the paradigm of physical therapy treatment to create easier access for all.”

The company presented at the recent 2020 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium and are soon implementing a soft launch of the product.

-By Caroline Cotten 

Cotten is a senior in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.