Turning Life Experience into a Life-Altering Medical Device

By Paul Lovoi, PhD, co-founder and CTO, MindRhythm

March 28, 2003 prompted a life-changing event that forever altered my entrepreneurial path. After a long workday, I arrived home to find that my wife, Jan, had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke.

Jan was stabilized in the neurology ICU, and the neurologist said that in the morning they would move Jan to the catheterization laboratory, or “cath lab,” to better determine her condition. To move a patient in Jan’s condition to the cath lab required a concerted effort of many people over about 45 minutes. With only a few inches between the outside of the head and the center of the brain, it seemed there must be a better method than moving a sedated and intubated patient to a CT scanner. It was during this time – when Jan was finally wheeled out of the ICU and to the cath lab – that the concept behind MindRhythm was formulated. Unfortunately, my wife Jan passed away the morning of March 30, 2003. It seemed to me that we could do much better with stroke.

With this idea of non-invasive neuro “imaging” percolating, I reached out to several technical friends and began developing a plan for the original premise of the technology, which was submarine signal processing: a submarine is a hard shell filled with air and surrounded by water. Similarly, the brain is a hard shell filled with brain and liquid surrounded by air. Couldn’t we do something similar with the brain as we do with submarines?

After researching acoustics, I discovered accelerometers would be more effective. Thus, a plan was formulated to put an accelerometer on a head and learn what we could see. As it turns out, we could see a brain signal! In discovering what is now known as the HeadPulse, I’d found a way to accurately diagnose stroke and several other neurological conditions in an inexpensive and non-invasive manner.

In 2016, I began working with Dr. Wade Smith (who would become one of MindRhythm’s co-founders) on detecting Large Vessel Occlusion (LVO) strokes. With the advent of thrombectomy as standard of care for (LVO) stroke, the problem moved to the prehospital setting, with the goal of identifying and transporting these patients to a center capable of treiting their condition, Together, we created MindRhythm’s innovative device, Harmony, that can rapidly identify a patient experiencing an LVO stroke. The device is small, inexpensive, simple to use, and disposable – and most critically, can prevent a stroke victim’s permanent disability or death.

I co-founded MindRhythm because I’m passionate about what we’re doing, and I want to help solve the stroke triage problem. Following the death of my wife due to a stroke, I have been determined to prevent this from happening to others – MindRhythm has the capabilities to meaningfully improve the outcome of the more than 250,000 LVO stroke victims each year.