Recently, hundreds of biomedical and rehabilitation leaders got to see and hear about a new Web and tablet-based clinical assessment tool for measuring the functional effects of brain injury.
At the June 20 MedEdge Summit 2013, CEO Tracy Milner and COO Heather Condello showcased ‘BrainFx 360 ’– an evolution in traditional assessment. It was something of a test prior to the tool’s launch into the North American rehab market later this summer.
Milner and Condello are part of a cohort of health science entrepreneurs currently participating in ventureLAB’s BUILD business-mentoring program. Both are occupational therapists, practicing in the area of neuro-rehabilitation with adults and children. In their day-to-day Ontario OT practice they had seen first-hand that the milder functional impact of neurological impairment were not being assessed adequately by current methods. They envisioned a solution; a comprehensive and sensitive Web-based tool for health care teams to assess risk of concussion, brain injury, dementia, or other neurological or neuro degenerative disease. BrainFx was founded in 2012 to address this need.
Can mild to moderate brain dysfunction be detected earlier, easier and with greater sensitivity?
For BrainFx this is the key question. Milner’s answer is “yes we can”. To prove it BrainFx has been engaged in trials and studies with York University and The University of Toronto for the past year.
Principal investigators, Dr. Lauren Sergio and Dr. William Gage of York University have been working on an objective validation study of the BrainFx 360 Assessment. Preliminary data analysis is very promising. In a small sample size of participants diagnosed with mild to moderate brain injury (and control subjects), fifteen of the activities from BrainFx 360 were statistically significant between the two groups, and the most sensitive activities predicted those with mild to moderate brain injury 100% of the time when cross-validated. The validation study will continue to increase the sample size for further data analysis.
Another study deals with athletes who complete healthy baseline assessments and are followed post-concussion if an injury occurs. In this case The University of Toronto and the BrainFx team is interested to see how BrainFx 360 can assist health care teams in understanding the effects of concussion post-injury and over time. It can also provide further information to health professionals, athletes, parents and family members to make informed decisions about return to play, school and work.
Gaining patient engagement: Will ‘crowdfunding’ help?
Gaining commercial traction in the healthcare market is a universal challenge. The BrainFx team plans to exploit a relatively new collaborative crowdsourcing phenomenon called ‘crowdfunding’. In clinical trials ‘crowdsourced” methodologies like this are said to increase patient engagement, source samples, fund initiatives, and improving study design, quality and outcomes, all in a cost-reducing mode.
Milner says that her crowdfunding campaign is unique. Her goals include increased brand awareness, further validation of the assessment and increased numbers of health care teams who can benefit from using the BrainFx 360 assessment tool. When the campaign is unleashed this September , participants and contributors to the campaign will be able to nominate health care organizations to receive the certification training, assessment hardware and free assessment credits. BrainFx will provide the training to qualified health professionals free of charge. In exchange, the health care teams will use those 20 assessment credits to recruit healthy participants and those with mild-to-moderate brain disorders who consent to having their sanitized results used for normative data and further validation research, while still being able to obtain a ‘results report’ to be reviewed with their health team.
Tracy Milner sees the future of rehabilitation after mild brain injury (such as concussion) as increasingly hopeful. “Indications are that the BrainFx 360 tool will gather data that will not just help patients but also assist health professionals and researchers to contribute to furthering neuroscience”. Many health professionals agree. More than 600 North American health team members who have seen the assessment demo at Canadian and US conferences are lined up to receive their product details later this summer.
Read more about BrainFX at http://www.brainfx.com/