Brian Harris is a board-certified music therapist. His work took him to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, where he started the organization’s first Neurologic Music Therapy program. Harris was utilizing music to help patients improve their ability to walk, and it was working.

Doctors were interested and so were patients, who wanted to get that type of care outside the hospital. Eventually, the demands outgrew Harris’ ability to supply assistance.

Out of that, MedRhythms was born. Harris co-founded the Portland, Maine-based company with Owen McCarthy, whose background is in engineering and entrepreneurship.

The startup began as a therapy services organization and was aiding individuals at Spaulding and doing in-home care. But then Harris realized something: “This was a much bigger need than just Spaulding or Boston or New England,” he said in a phone interview.

Today, MedRhythms is using sensors, software and music to build evidence-based neurologic interventions to measure and improve walking. The digital therapeutics company, which raised an oversubscribed Series A financing round last summer, aims to improve the lives of individuals with neurologic injuries and diseases.

The startup’s approach is based on clinical research indicating music improves outcomes in neurologic rehabilitation by globally engaging the brain.

MedRhythms’ platform involves a web application, mobile application and sensors, which can connect to a patient’s shoes and collect clinical-grade data about the cadence of their walking.

After collecting a user’s baseline data, MedRhythms adds music to the equation. In an effort to improve their gait, the patient listens to music through headphones while walking. The company’s algorithm can also make changes to the music and tempo so the patient can improve their speed.

“The goal of this is that it can be used in the home without the need of a clinician there,” Harris said.

Currently, MedRhythms is working to secure FDA approval for its product for stroke patients. Other than its FDA work and bringing its post-stroke tool to market, the startup’s future goals involve looking at other disease states such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

Photo: ArisSu, Getty Images

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