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CES 2021: Massage chair fights depression

The chair boasts multiple programs that aim to ultimately reduce ailments that may cause depression.

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Many have called 2020 the year of disruption and endurance — both mentally and physically. With the world feeling the crush of Covid-19 fatigue, lockdowns, overwork, childcare, home schooling and more, it can feel as though the country is collectively suffocating. A health and wellness solutions company based in Seoul, South Korea, found a way to help reduce the persistent physical and mental exhaustion we face through its new Elizabeth Medical Massage Chair, slated for global release in March.

It may be hard to believe that a massage chair can be a medical solution to many of the ailments faced during the pandemic. However, the company’s newest massage chair was added to its line-up to address the compounding stress, anxiety and depression faced by so many by pairing a blood pressure and lifestyle-management app with tailored massage programs.

According to the CDC, nearly half of adults in the United States (45 percent) have hypertension, with 30 million adults recommended to take medication as a result. The American Psychological Association also reflects this sentiment in its Stress in America 2020 study, which states, “nearly 8 in 10 adults (78 percent) say the corona virus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their life.”

“We developed the Elizabeth Medical Massage Chair to be an industry first and to address the skyrocketing stresses around the globe,” says Changjoo Kim, CEO of Bodyfriend North America. “Relying on critical data on the effects of stress, anxiety and depression, we combined creative massage design engineering with a hardware/software platform that can accurately measure and manage a person’s blood pressure—ultimately optimising the blood pressure of the person over time.”

The massage chair is a product that systematically links with the healthcare application and various physical therapy methods to manage a user’s blood pressure. The chair relies on data pulled from the app to create a programmatic massage that acts as a therapeutic tool. It activates the parasympathetic nerve and blood vessel dilation through thermal massage and respiratory rate management through its integrated speakers.

The chair and related lifestyle-management app also leverage cognitive behavioural therapy programs designed by psychiatrists at the Bodyfriend Medical R&D Center. These programs are meant to positively engage and encourage users to continue their health transformation journey through behaviour improvement, customised diet and exercise recommendations and access to health-oriented content, such as articles and tips.

The Elizabeth Medical Massage Chair compliments other advances within Bodyfriend’s Medical R&D Center with its Mental Massage and Brain Massage—launched in 2018.

Kim also mentioned that these advances by Bodyfriend in the massage-chair industry “not only take care of the body, but they take care of the mind … this is critical in fulfilling our vision of ultimately extending our customer’s healthy lifespan by 10 years with the most limited need for medical or medicinal treatments.”

Bodyfriend is currently working on building out its software and hardware capabilities by integrating what they call a Healthcare Robot, which will be designed around artificial intelligence and IoT (internet of things). This integration of machine learning and other technologies will be able to send messages to the doctor’s office when abnormal vital signs are detected. It will also build on algorithms for connecting the customer’s healthcare and psychological data to connected apps, medical specialists and more.

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