According to the CDC, someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds. For a stroke victim, seeking immediate help is necessary; those who suspect someone near them may be having a stroke are encouraged to follow the acronym FAST to assess their face, arms, speech, and time needed to call 911. Signs include a drooping face, arm, and slurred speech. One out of every 20 deaths is due to a stroke, and nearly 1 in 4 strokes occur in those who have already had one.
Nirav Shah, the Stroke director and a neurohospitalist at Swedish Cherry Hill in Seattle, insists that better treatments and technologies are needed to prevent and treat strokes. “I believe we are seeing more investment in stroke related digital health because of a combination of timing and impact,” he explains. “Additionally, I think people thought that stroke was difficult to approach with technology given that patients are not in their normal cognitive state. Thankfully, now people are realizing that if they design technology well it can be used for diagnosing, treating, and managing stroke.”
Nivedita Lakhera, a physician at CEP America in San Jose, author and stroke survivor emphasizes the necessity to create better health solutions for strokes. “We are our mind. Stroke has immediate life altering impact,” says Lakhera. “Stroke incidences in young people are on rise, which makes finding greater solutions even more urgent. Stroke treatment should not be a luxury, but rather a right given how detrimental its effects are.”
Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals is a Cambridge based startup that has raised a $2.4M Seed Round, announced on July 17, 2017. It is a drug development company that seeks to create protective strategies and therapeutic agents in repairing neurons that are damaged from traumatic brain injuries. The company works with a range of neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, concussions, and strokes. The company’s Purinergic Treatment given by injection to test mice significantly reduced the sizes of brain lesions after strokes.
Forest Devices is a Pittsburgh-based startup that has raised a $2.3M Seed Round, which was announced on February 22, 2018. The startup has created a medical device called Alphastroke that can be used by medical personnel in any environment, including urgent care facilities, outpatient clinics, hospitals, and ambulances to objectively detect a stroke and enable rapid triage. This technology is an alternative to wasting precious time and resources spent receiving a CT and could also help EMTs send patients to stroke centers rather than hospitals for live saving measures.
MYOLYN is a Gainesville, Florida based startup that has raised a $1.2M Seed Round, announced on December 22, 2017. The startup has developed technology to aid in the rehabilitation that can occur after a stroke, as well as other neurological conditions and injuries. They have developed specialized mobile and stationary cycles to help patients gain muscle mass in their legs and have seen breakthroughs even in the case of complete MYOLYN employs the use of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) applied with nodes over the skin to activate leg muscles to give MS and Parkinson’s patients greater mobility
Founder and CEO Alan Hamlet says. “MYOLYN leverages the most cutting-edge techniques in robotics and automation in order to develop products that improve health and mobility. Our products are designed to maximize health and functional outcomes for people with paralysis due to conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury.”
Header Image: MYOLYN product in use by their own product ambassador, Amanda Perla
Leah D’Sa is a Junior studying Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. She is currently a copyeditor for the school newspaper the Berkeley Beacon as well as Poetry Editor for the literary magazine the Emerson Review. She is looking to begin her career with health technology writing as she seeks to combine her lifelong love of writing and science.
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