Dr Aviva Cohen joined SMARTlab as a researcher in 2011. At the time she was focusing on the Research & Hope website. SMARTlab provided structure and support that helped her to develop this further. It also gave her tools that enabled her to move forward with another idea, Neuro Hero. Aviva developed this to help people like her husband, Steve, who was left with a severe speech deficit following a stroke.
Speech and language disorders can be caused by a wide range of conditions that include stroke, autism and acquired brain injury. They can prevent a person from understanding or expressing either spoken or written language or even using gesture. Those living with a communication deficit often rely heavily on one person to speak for them. Both the carer and their loved one can become isolated and consequently suffer from depression. Neuro Hero is working with therapists to address the underlying problems and tackle the isolation they can bring.
Aviva wanted to create low-cost applications for mobile tablets, smart phones and PCs that promote rehabilitation and enhance communication and language skills. More than that, she wanted to encourage interaction with other people and to foster socialisation.
Neuro Hero gathered momentum in November 2011 when Aviva and her partners at the time, Catherine Sweeney and Vinny Reynolds, were awarded a place on NDRC’s LaunchPad: a three month accelerator programme. Here they began to develop collaborative therapeutic activities and communication tools that enable people with no formal training to learn important skills. They designed short, low-cost training videos that can teach anyone a key communication skill within minutes and a range of other practical supports including news feeds and educational materials.
In May 2012 Neuro Hero received a prestigious Arthur Guinness Fund ‘Start-Up’ award (read article on siliconrepublic.com). This award is a springboard for social entrepreneurs providing funding and a wealth of expertise over a two-year period. With their help Neuro Hero intends to launch the first of its therapeutic activities in July closely followed by a series of other supports and services.
“We are so proud to be recipients of the Arthur Guinness Fund. It means that we can turn our vision into a reality,” said Aviva.