Crowdfunding appeal for young migraine sufferers will make everyone Happyr
With the pandemic closing special clinics because their plight is considered a non-emergency, migraine sufferers might feel they’ve been given the cold shoulder for the moment - which is where Happyr Health’s app comes in useful.
The student-led venture at the University of Cambridge is calling on the public to support children suffering from chronic pain by funding its applied gaming download. The company, founded by Nicola Filzmoser and Cornelius Palm, has developed the software which features an augmented reality avatar that children can talk to and chat within a safe and secure environment. From the child’s conversations, as well as via a parent dashboard, the app understands individual migraine triggers.
Both Nicola and Cornelius had history of chronic pain during childhood: Nicola reports that “it is a condition I have been suffering with for more than 17 years”. And indeed, across the world 70 million children suffer from migraines. Yet, not least because they are likely to miss large chunks of school, “they are at increased risk for developmental stagnation” (Zernikow et al 2012). Yet research and practitioners are still mostly focused on treating adults. Corenlius, meanwhile, suffered from chronic abdominal pain as a child and has since spent five years working as a paramedic.
The duo’s app allows children to develop a migraine diary which can then be used to personalise treatments and is supported by Professor Paul R Martin, a clinical psychologist and world authority on migraines and headaches, who says: “I believe that the earlier one can treat a problem, the more likely it is that success will be achieved.”
Happyr Health, which is currently part of the Accelerate Cambridge program at Cambridge Judge Business School, launched a crowdfunding appeal on April 14 to take the app to the market “following the increase of interest for remote solutions from parents in social media groups”. The company set out to raise £10,000 via the NatWest ‘Back Her Business’ program to develop the first version of the Happyr Health app, saying “donations from £1 can already make a difference”.
If the company successfully reaches the target and a minimum of 100 supporters, they get further financial support from NatWest - a number they have already achieved, but they still require a little more than £1,000 to get the crowdfunding appeal over the line.
There is further potential in the mix in terms of both additional gaming applications for health treatments - and the direction healthcare is heading.
“Based on the child’s migraine diary, we can suggest and adapt non-pharmacological treatments within the application,” says co-founder and CEO Cornelius. “ With a team of migraine experts and psychologists, we will translate cognitive behavioural therapy to mobile games in the future. By using augmented reality and game mechanisms, children are engaged in their migraine diary and personalised psychological treatments.”
The technology involved in healthcare is increasingly significant because, in an age where lockdown and social distancing are being ‘normalised’, actual medical treatments are the last port of call - the main goal is to ensure that conditions are managed as successfully as possible from home. Happyr not only introduces new approaches to seemingly unsolvable problems but transforms paediatric pain management from a one-sided biological model to a multidisciplinary treatment approach.
“We want to raise awareness for the issue as the pandemic makes it more and more apparent that patient empowerment and remote care is needed,” says co-founder Nicola.
For both founders, it is a very personal mission to help and transform the healthcare system, and the bonus is that the app will be able to help ease the economic burden of chronic pain, as its self-care cognitive behavioural interventions can reduce the need for medication and high-touch inpatient hospital visits.