Spaulding Hospital and MIT Will Host the First Rehabilitative Medicine Hackathon

Hackers across disciplines will try to find new ways of approaching rehabilitative medicine this weekend.


The MIT Grand Hack. Photo provided to

If any doubts remain that hackers can be a force of good, this weekend’s Spaulding Hackathon will set the record straight.

The Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding is collaborating with the MIT Department of Hacking Medicine to host the first-ever hackathon entirely devoted to rehabilitation. It will take place at The Cambridge Innovation Center on September 25 and 26.

A healthcare hackathon is an increasingly popular forum for students, medical professionals, and inventors to come together and solve major issues in the medical world, marathon-style. (MIT is no stranger to the trend: Its Hacking Medicine website offers tips and a Hackathon Handbook for potential organizers.)

“In medicine, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” says David Binder, the director of innovation at Spaulding. “This is a way to capitalize on the resources we have in Boston—all the startups, universities, hospitals, and venture capital—to solve real problems.”

For this event, which is sponsored by Microsoft and co-hosted by The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Binder invited clinicians, engineers, designers, programmers, and entrepreneurs to register.

“We really want a diverse pool—all perspectives, not just physicians,” Binder says. “Not everyone has business experience, and not everyone went to medical school. Doctors will learn to present to investors, specifically for rehabilitation. Hacking like this has never been done before.”

The actual hacking will occur over a four-hour period on October 26. To win the event, participants must impress one senior lecturer at MIT, one coordinator for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), faculty members at Spaulding, and a few major healthcare CEOs.

“We want to steer away from any financial incentive to win,” Binder says. “It’s about giving the best teams the resources to take their ideas to the next level.”