Tackling the $190 billion physical therapy market, Sword Health raises $8 million from Khosla Ventures

The U.S. healthcare system spends roughly $190 billion every year on physical therapies prescribed to treat muscular and skeletal disorders, and Sword Health has raised $8 million in a new round of financing to slash those costs.

The New York-based company was founded in Europe four years ago and recently relocated to the U.S., where spending on musculoskeletal disorders has skyrocketed to become the second most costly ailment in America, the company said.

Sword Health focuses on five key pathologies — lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain and physical therapy in the wake of knee and hip replacement surgeries.

“Lower back pain is the most important one in terms of chronic pain, then knee and shoulder pain,” says Sword Health founder and chief executive Virgilio Bento.

Khosla Ventures led the round with undisclosed angel investors. It’s the first funding for Sword since it raised a $4.6 million seed round last April.

Bento launched the company after identifying the lack of availability of good physical therapy when his brother was recovering from a car accident and needed access to better care.

The company has a hardware solution that’s set up in consultation with a specialist either remotely or in the home. The specialist will use a tablet equipped with the company’s software to monitor a user of Sword Health’s system of wearable devices. After guiding a patient through a therapy session, the patient can then perform the exercises on their own in the comfort of their home.

Since its launch, the company has treated 1,000 patients with its technology, according to Bento.

Sword isn’t the only company that’s looking to cut costs for physical therapy. Another European transplant to U.S. shores, Hinge Health, grabbed a $26 million round about eight months ago to tackle the American market with digital treatments for musculoskeletal diseases.

Sword, which has offices in New York, San Francisco and Porto, said it would use the new money in part for clinical validation of its therapies. The company has already published a study in “Nature: Scientific Reports,” which reviewed the efficacy of the company’s treatment regimen for patients who’d had total knee replacement surgeries. 

“We already proved we could make the impossible possible by developing a new technology many thought unthinkable,” said Bento, in a statement. “With this round we want to go from the possible to the inevitable.”