Chris Molaro, WG’17 & Adam Pardes, PhD’18
Curing PTSD with Wearables
Quantifying & Treating Mental Health
Mental health problems used to be impossible to clearly and objectively measure—or treat. NeuroFlow is changing this, making more quantifiable, effective treatment possible for the millions who suffer from severe stress and anxiety.
Wearable devices have become ubiquitous, measuring activity, heart rate, sleep patterns, and more. Brain monitoring, long performed in a laboratory or hospital in-patient setting, show states like stress, anxiety, or deep focus, based on patterns of electrical activity. NeuroFlow brings these technologies together. They use commercially available wearables to send readings from the brain and body to their software platform and proprietary algorithm, and can reliably analyze a person’s mental state in real time.
Until now, mental health providers have had to primarily rely on patient self-reporting to gauge the effectiveness of a course of treatment. With NeuroFlow, the provider can watch exactly how a patient’s body and brain are responding, measuring stress levels or relaxation levels, to see how these change in real-time, and over the course of multiple sessions. These measurements inform the provider about how well a treatment is working, and can be used to train the patient to actively change how their brain responds, destressing a stressful situation, or entering deep mindfulness to reduce anxiety.
A Great Team
Today, NeuroFlow has four full time employees in addition to cofounders Chris and Adam, as well as five interns, all passionate about the mission of the company. They’ve partnered with Dr. Michael Platt, the James S. Riepe University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who holds appointments as Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Marketing, doing research with the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative and Behavioral Lab. NeuroFlow is also working with major institutions connected to the armed forces, as well as with private clinicians, many of whom reached out after hearing about the product, eager to embrace this innovation in therapy.
Adam Pardes, PhD’18 and Chris Molaro, WG’17
Chris Molaro, a Wharton MBA, West Point graduate, and Army Combat Veteran, came to Wharton because he wanted to solve big problems. Adam Pardes, a Penn bio-engineering PhD candidate, was looking for the right challenge, and discovered he liked the fast pace of startup life. NeuroFlow was the answer for both of them.
As a platoon leader deployed in Iraq, Chris was in charge of the physical and mental well-being of 40 soldiers, many of whom suffered from PTSD and other stress-related problems. He watched them suffer—both from embarrassment at the stigma around mental health problems, and because the methods of treatment often failed to help. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 20 veterans commit suicide per day.
The problem isn’t limited to the armed forces; 8 million Americans are diagnosed with PTSD annually, and the cost of treatment is estimated at $40 billion a year. Many more suffer from anxiety disorders and other problems based in severe stress.