Singaporean tech startup Neeuro and the Institute of Mental Health have unveiled their home-based attention training programme.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The digital therapeutic programme called Cogo seeks to solve inattentiveness in children aged 6-12 years through a 24-session guided game that is paired with the SenzeBand 2 EEG headband by Neeuro. It was developed based on Neeuro’s Brain-Computer Interface technology.
According to a press statement, the aim of the mobile game is to move a character through a maze. But unlike in most games where users control characters using a gamepad or touchscreen, the characters in Cogo can only be controlled by brainwaves.
Its paired headband has seven EEG sensors with four individual data channels to track users’ brainwaves. These are then transmitted in real-time via Bluetooth and are captured and interpreted by AI algorithms, whose reading is later used to drive challenges within the game.
This non-invasive intervention programme had been tested in a large-scale randomised clinical trial backed by the National Medical Research Council. Following the release of its findings in 2019, a pilot run of the programme was launched for 20 children aged 6-12 years who were being treated for ADHD at IMH.
Neeuro said that based on the clinical findings, the optimal and recommended session is two to three times a week for 30 minutes per session, and over the course of two to three months for a total of 24 sessions to get the best results.
WHY IT MATTERS
Each year, the IMH sees about 800 Singaporean children and adolescents with ADHD, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects up to 7% of children globally.
Current ADHD management includes medication and behavioural interventions. A BCI programme is now also being offered at the institute as an additional home-based treatment option to address limitations in mainstay treatment.
A major player in the ADHD DTx space, Akili Interactive, recently went public in the United States via a SPAC merger. It offers the FDA-cleared EndeavorRx, a DTx currently approved for children aged 8-12 years. The company is now working to get the product approved in Japan.
Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma from Japan has also recently jumped ship in the mental health DTx space. Last year, it announced its partnership with US-based behavioural health firm BehaVR to develop prescription DTx for treating major mental health disorders, including social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder.
It has been projected that the global DTx market will reach $13.8 billion in value by 2027, growing at a 21% CAGR from 2019.
ON THE RECORD
“In this digital age, young parents are savvy and are on a lookout for digital aids that can help their children improve their well-being. [ADHD] is one of the most common conditions we see among young patients, and the first line of treatment would be behaviour management therapy where they learn strategies to help them cope better. While professional help may be necessary for some children, others may benefit from a home-based intervention like the Cogo programme,” said Dr Lim Choon Guan, senior consultant and deputy chief of the Department of Developmental Psychiatry at IMH.
Dr Guan said they may offer the Cogo programme as an adjunct training option for children with mild to moderate ADHD.
“Besides the convenience of being able to do this therapy at home and with most being able to see improved concentration, I believe young children will also find the gameplay fun,” he added.