Last March, MedTech Boston interviewed MedRhythms CEO Brian Harris about his company and the service they provided, neurologic music therapy (NMT). At the time, MedRhythms was providing personalized NMT to patients with neurological injuries such as Parkinson’s, stroke related injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Now, with their new digital platform, MedRythms is poised to deliver constantly-improving, fully personalized NMT to a wider range of patients than ever before.
No stimulus that activates multiple areas of the brain in the way that music does. A typical NMT session lasts 60 minutes, and involves a trained NMT professional guiding the patient through an interactive program of therapeutic interventions that might include playing an instrument, singing along to music, or some other activity designed especially for that patient. It can have dramatic effects on a patient’s recovery, treating a range of symptoms including impaired mobility, speech, and vision.
MedRhythyms maintains an active in-patient and out-patient staffing service, providing NMT services to patients in partnership with Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts and Boston University’s Aphasia Resource Center; however, with demand for trained NMT professionals exceeding supply, new approaches are needed to make this care accessible— not to mention cheap enough for people without expensive insurance coverage.
That’s why Harris and his colleagues are developing a digital medicine platform to administer therapy to users. The platform will also be capable of collecting data and tracking patient progress during therapy sessions. The platform is currently in its prototype stage, says Harris, but the goal is to make it a semi-autonomous vehicle capable of delivering advanced therapy to the millions of patients suffering from the effects of a stroke or other TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).
Stroke remains a leading cause of disability in the united states, with an estimated occurrence of once every 40 seconds. Around one third of all survivors suffer from Aphasia, or impaired language, and many stroke survivors suffer some form of limited mobility— including half of all survivors over 65, according to the American Heart Association. If MedRhythms can create an effective and affordable digital medicine platform for treating these conditions, the $28 billion spent each year on outpatient rehabilitation costs could be reduced and access to the latest NMT made more readily available for survivors of strokes and other TBIs.
To help make their vision a reality, MedRhythms announced on December 8th new appointments to their board of advisors who bring with them decades of knowledge and experience. “We believe at MedRhythms that it is important to have a multi-disciplinary team of advisors to inform our strategy and ensure that we are striving for world-class standards as we set on a mission to reach everyone on the earth,” says Owen McCarthy, President and co-founder of MedRhythms. “This team will be a critical part of our success.”
The new advisors include Dr. Michael Thaut, the founder of NMT, David Storto, President of Spaulding Network and Partners Continuing Care, Dr. Lou Awad, Associate Professor at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and Scott Wallace, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Optum Labs. Applying these advisors’ combined expertise to the creation of a digital NMT product marks a major step forward for MedRhythms and has stirred excitement among the team for what the future holds.
Regarding his new partnership with MedRhythms, Scott Wallace expressed optimism. “I am thrilled to work with the team at MedRhythms to help bring innovation to the rehabilitation and physical therapy markets. These underserved populations are in need of a disruptive and transformative application of advanced analytics, automated and objective assessments, and the creative use of music as therapy. MedRhythms is in a great position to capitalize on their knowledge and experience in the therapy industry and I look forward to supporting them as they execute on their innovative vision.”