Holland Bloorview’s Anxiety Meter included in Globe and Mail’s neuroscience feature

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab“Research labs across Ontario are full of ingenious – and even life-saving – inventions. Unfortunately, many of them never make it to market,” writes Wendy Leung in “These six great neuroscience ideas could make the leap from lab to market” in the November 20, 2014 edition of the Globe and Mail.

MaRS Innovation, which was created to help researchers solve exactly this problem, has a project with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital that was featured in Leung’s article. Asim Siddiqi founded the anxiety meter app for children with autism.

Siddiqi recently competed in the Ontario Brain Institute’s OBI Entrepreneurs Program, funded in part by the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Here’s an excerpt:

As much as 80 per cent of children with autism suffer from anxiety, but they often have trouble recognizing and communicating their anxiety states, Siddiqi explains. “Just like we sometimes have difficulty ourselves recognizing when we’re kind of stress-eating and things like that, they have it a little worse than we do.”

Using sensors on the body, Dymaxia’s anxiety meter picks up physiological signals, such as heart rate and skin conductance – or the amount of electric current that passes through sensors on the skin, which increases with stress and body temperature. It then processes those signals and provides feedback of the child’s anxiety state in real time on a mobile phone or tablet.

Ideally used when children are away from their caregivers, the app would alert them when they become agitated, reminding them to employ the coping techniques they learn through behavioural therapy.

“It’s providing them self-awareness,” Siddiqi says. “They need that prompt, that reminder of ‘Okay, you need to implement your therapy training.’”

For more information about the anxiety meter, contact David Asgeirsson.