Highmark Interactive has just revealed their first advisory board, an important step towards the medtech company’s goal of becoming a worldwide leader in brain injury awareness.
The board consists of co-chair Hayley Wickenheiser, five-time Olympic medalist and arguably the best female hockey player of all time; Mark McMorris, a snowboarder with an Olympic bronze medal and 14 X Games medals; Andy O’Brien, the director of sports science and performance with the Pittsburgh Penguins; and Bryce Salvador, the former captain of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
All of the board members have years of advocacy experience in the field of head injury, with many of them unfortunately having suffered through multiple concussions themselves. The purpose of the board members will be to consult Highmark on how to approach awareness and effectiveness for their services.
“I’m trying to be an advocate and say there’s a need for innovative technology,” says Salvador. “In my experience, I spent a lot of time on finding information, finding the baseline and seeing if I can do anything. It’s not fun.”
“Head injuries and concussions are prevalent in everything that we do now,” continues Salvador. “I think as we try to navigate through this space there’s a lot of misinformation and hysteria that comes with people trying to handle something new.”
Toronto-based Highmark is Canada’s first digital therapeutics organization created with the goal of designing interactive games to help in the task of recognizing and spreading awareness about brain injuries such as concussions. The company does this by collecting baseline neurological functional data and attempting to facilitate the brain’s healing from injury.
Highmark will create games for all ages and demographics, as they know brain injuries are not selective to a certain kind of person. The company also acquired XMG Studio a couple of months ago to help create games, which ensures Highmark’s interactive offerings will not fall short in the “fun” department.
More than one million people in Canada live with some form of brain injury, yet it remains a silent epidemic. Highmark’s board announcement signifies a strong relationship between medtech and leaders in sport and brain injury research.
“What I see in sports, especially youth sports, is not the actual head injury, but that there is no information to know when someone has recovered,” says Salvador. “That lack of awareness leads to a second impact, which is the most dangerous part of a head injury.”
Highmark will continue to work towards becoming an approved treatment and diagnosis tool for brain injuries, and plans to release their first games in the next 12-18 months. The company announced last month that they completed a $2 million seed round of financing.