The SMART Arm Story

A stroke is a brain injury resulting in stroke survivors losing the ability to drive & control key movements. Recovery requires re-learning how to make those key movements.

The Sensory-Motor Active Rehabilitation Training Arm (‘SMART Arm’) is a non-robotic medical device that enables stroke survivors with upper limb weakness to drive recovery of their upper limb functional impairment. The SMART Arm allows stroke survivors with varying levels of arm function to initiate and maintain rehabilitation.

SMART Arm’s functionality is based on the principles of neuro plastic transformation and is designed to deliver the key principles of experience-dependent neural plasticity.

The SMART Arm Timeline


  • the SMART Arm story began when Dr Ruth Barker first conceived the idea for the SMART ArmTM device after becoming frustrated by the lack of clinical options for arm rehabilitation following stroke. In her role as a physiotherapist, Dr Barker realised that the majority of therapy for stroke survivors was directed towards their legs, to get them walking again. This left many stroke survivors with major deficiencies in arm function, preventing them from performing everyday tasks and from regaining quality of life.
  • From this notion the SMART Arm team of inventors was formed, consisting of Associate Professor Ruth Barker, Dr Kate Hayward, Professor Richard Carson, Professor Sandy Brauer , and Dr David Lloyd, all of whom were academic staff or PhD students at the University of Queensland and James Cook University.

2007 to 2017

  • The first prototypes of the SMART Arm were very simple. Over the years the prototypes developed and changed dramatically with improved efficacy & usability.
  • Results were reported in a series of published clinical trials and two of the devices continued in research use for patient therapy in hospital rehab units.
  • Development continued to refine the product through research channels and controlled use for patient therapy in hospital rehab units.


  • Ontogo Pty Ltd was engaged to provide a plan for commercialising the SMART Arm. Ontogo’s input included the initiation of device design changes to meet both the clinical and the home market.


  • NeuroMotion Pty Ltd acquired exclusive, worldwide license to use and commercialise the SMART Arm Stroke Rehabilitation Technology and, in association with Ontogo Pty Ltd, will finalise commercial development and launch SMART Arm to Australia and the world.

Significant testing has been performed on SMART Arm prototypes to ensure the safety and efficacy of the concept. In addition, a number of prototype devices have been deployed in the clinical setting for research purposes. These devices have been in use for over 10 years and significant positive feedback has been collected from both the clinicians operating the device, and the patients receiving rehabilitation using the SMART Arm. Much of this research has been published.

Successes to Date 

Key milestones have been achieved to progress SMART Arm to this point:

  • Scientific & clinical research has demonstrated that the key functionality of SMART Arm leads to a considerable improvement over established practice
  • SMART Arm has the proven to have the potential to help clinicians to deliver the standard of care
  • Significant clinical support for the SMART Arm has grown globally and a readiness to adopt the technology in Australia
  • Creation of a viable go-to-market model for SMART Arm
  • NeuroMotion Pty Ltd acquisition of the worldwide license to use and commercialise Smart Arm via the engagement of Ontogo Pty Ltd to execute the business plan.