From clinical trial to community pilot: Ontario-based groups collaborate to help manage anxiety in autism
Awake Labs, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital – with support from the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) – have come together to bring a new technology to the autism community via a pilot with a local community partner. The “Anxiety Meter” brings together technology and clinical care to help manage anxiety in autism.
Anxiety is difficult to understand. It depends on a person’s lived experience, their biology, and their environment. That’s why we need to understand when and where anxiety happens and what triggers it. This will help us take appropriate steps to address and manage anxiety, and allow us to reach out to people we trust for support when we need to.
This can be a challenge for people with autism and their families, especially when the signs of anxiety are difficult to recognize and communicate.
Awake Labs and Holland Bloorview want to empower people with autism and their trusted care teams by supporting them in identifying and addressing their anxiety and improve quality of life.
The Anxiety Meter is a patented and clinically validated technology developed by a group of scientists at Holland Bloorview. The Anxiety Meter translates a user’s heart rate into their anxiety level so the user and their care team can know when to apply relaxation strategies, like those they learned in cognitive behavior therapy. This technology has been tested in a research lab to show that it can successfully detect anxiety.
Awake Labs’ is integrating the Anxiety Meter with its existing platform, Reveal Stories, to ensure care teams have access to the most up-to-date strategies and can share important information about what the anxiety triggers may be. Piloting the Anxiety Meter with Reveal Stories in real-world settings is the first step to making this empowering tool available to those who need it.
Partnership and Impact
The goal of the pilot is to leverage Awake Labs’ platform and existing wearables that measure heart rate in order to apply the Anxiety Meter in a community setting. The agreement between Awake Labs and Holland Bloorview brings scientific and technological expertise and a strong partnership with a local organization that will help bring the benefits of the algorithm to the global autism community. This project is supported by the Ontario Brain Institute and You X Ventures, who will be supporting research and product design and development efforts.
“A partnership between OBI’s ONtrepreneur, Awake Labs, and Dr. Azadeh Kushki, POND researcher (OBI’s neurodevelopment research program) at Holland Bloorview, can manage anxiety and improve quality of life for people with autism. Collaborations are central to OBI’s vision in accelerating discovery and innovation, and this project speaks to the benefit partnerships can bring to the community,” added Tom Mikkelsen, President & Scientific Director at the OBI.
About Awake Labs, Holland Bloorview, the Ontario Brain Institute, and You X Ventures
Awake Labs is a digital health company building tools to empower care for brain and mental health disorders, starting with autism. Their web and mobile apps help parents, teachers, professionals, and self-advocates improve care coordination and support decision-making. Care teams can better understand what works and what doesn’t and better design strategies that match each individual’s strengths and needs. For more information please visit www.awakelabs.com
Holland Bloorview – Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital creates a world of possibility by supporting children and youth living with disability, medical complexity, illness and injury. Holland Bloorview is a top 40 Canadian research hospital that is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and serves over 7,500 families annually. Providing both inpatient and outpatient services, Holland Bloorview is renowned for its expertise in partnering with clients and families to provide exceptional care and is the only organization to ever achieve 100 per cent in two successive quality surveys by Accreditation Canada.
For more information please visit www.hollandbloorview.ca for more information.
The Ontario Brain Institute is a provincially funded, not-for-profit research centre seeking to maximize the impact of neuroscience and establish Ontario as a world leader in brain research, commercialization and care. OBI creates convergent partnerships between researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to foster discovery and deliver innovative products and services that improve the lives of those living with brain disorders. For more information please visit www.braininstitute.ca
You X Ventures is a Toronto-based firm that supports wholehearted founders and teams through research, product design & training. For more information please visit www.youxventures.com
Fatima Khan Senior Program Lead, Communications Ontario Brain Institute firstname.lastname@example.org (647) 847-9000
Sasha Babakhanova Communications Associate, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabili