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Innovating for Dementia: Fit Mind Challenge Update

Up to 5.3 Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease and this number is expected to more than double by 2050, according to the CDC. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, healthcare innovators are racing to develop technology enabled solutions that help seniors detect the early warning signs of dementia, prolong lucidity, and provide support to overburdened caregivers.

Partners HealthCare Connected Health’s newest innovation challenge, The Fit Mind Challenge, is an open call for solutions that support cognitive function in the aging population. The challenge is open through September 5th, and finalists—chosen by a combination of crowd voting and a panel of expert judges—will pitch-off onstage at the Partners Connected Health Symposium on October 20th.

Six teams have already submitted to the challenge:

  • Joseph Kim, MD, MPH, MBA of Newtown PA is developing a platform for games, quizzes and puzzles that not only serve as cognitive exercise for seniors, but that also collect performance metrics in categories such as memory and cognition. This data will be made available to a social network of caregivers and healthcare professionals, who will help identify signs of potential cognitive impairment.
  • Taking a page from Pokémon GO’s book, Tony Curcio, a medical student at Xavier University in London, ON, is looking to gamify daily tasks for people who suffer from mild cognitive impairment. Users would be reminded of tasks, given instructions on how to complete them, and also given “hotspot” quizzes that aim to help rebuild neural networks affected by the disorder.
  • Kevin Li, a psychiatry intern at Harvard South Shore Psychiatry has plans to develop a mobile app that standardizes screening for neurocognitive impairment. To reduce variation in presentation of the interview questions, the app will have a virtual standardized examiner and questions will be offered in multiple languages.
  • Jamie Yung, a psychiatry resident also at South Shore Psychiatry is looking to develop a public awareness campaign that involves outreach to the families of seniors at risk of cognitive impairment to help them identify the early warning signs of cognitive decline.
  • Keith Cooper, Chairman of Boston-based startup Constant Therapy has already built a mobile platform that analyzes demographic and diagnostic information and uses data from brain exercises to recommend an appropriate protocol of speech and cognitive therapy. But could this same approach be used to help patients with MCI Alzheimer’s disease maintain clarity for longer?
  • Lee Weinstein, a PhD Candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology is looking to build video games that measure a player’s performance against an established “healthy” performance trajectory.

Do you have an idea on how to support cognitive function in the aging population? There’s still time to submit! 

Abigail Ballou

Abigail Ballou

    Abby Ballou is the managing editor of MedTech Boston. She has a B.A. and M.Phil in English literature from NYU and the CUNY Graduate Center, respectively. When she isn't writing and editing for MedTech Boston, Abby enjoys reading, rock climbing, watching classic movies and listening to opera.

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