Why We Started Brightway Health
My brother Arlan is a brain injury survivor. He fell from a train at the end of 2015 and was kept in a medically-induced coma for three weeks. When he eventually was woken up, he had lost a majority of his memory, was unsteady on his feet, wasn’t able to speak coherently, and had trouble recognizing family members and friends.
We were lucky that Pennsylvania, where my parents live, had a program that covered much of his therapy that first year - neuropsychological evaluations, as well as speech, physical, and occupational therapy. But that support ended after the first year, and we’ve largely had to find our own way since.
My brother has recovered significantly, but we found that many of the things we’ve tried are not sustainable. Improving long-term outcomes requires patients to continue therapy over months or years. Whether it’s expense, inconvenience, or maintaining motivation, most of these could only be done for a short period of time and therefore had limited benefit. We needed a more sustainable solution.
I teamed up with two of my brother’s best friends from college, both named George, who have been tremendously supportive throughout my brother’s recovery. The three of us co-founded Brightway together.
Our application was initially called Rlin, after Arlan. It was designed to reward him to build healthy habits and to do his therapy on his own. It replaces the motivation needed to make long term progress with more exciting short-term rewards that he can earn more quickly.
And it’s been working. He’s been getting enough sleep much more consistently, which given its importance for brain recovery, has compounded in other ways. Even more exciting has been his consistency doing therapy; he spent 300% more time on physical therapy exercises compared to before using the application, and his speed doing these exercises increased by 70% in just 5 months. It’s also much more sustainable - he uses it every day, we don’t have to nag him, it saves us trips to therapists’ offices, and it’s less expensive than most of the other things we’ve tried.
Our story is not very different from many others who have experienced brain injury. We've just opened up our application, now named Brightway Health, to several more families who will help us to shape the application for themselves and to help other families. I hope you'll join us as we begin our journey to improve brain injury recovery.
Yannick Cohen is the co-founder and CEO of Brightway Health. He has previously founded or served at companies in medical records, artificial intelligence, healthcare management, recruiting, and leadership software.