Winners of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Innovation Demo Day competition share their victory with VA Senior Adviser Matthew Collier during Day 2 of VA’s Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion summit held May 17-18 in Boston. Winners are, from left, Max Randall of Daptly; KC Beard of Daptly; Steve Devick of King-Devick Technologies; VA’s Collier; Jason Roncoroni of Save A Warrior; and Jake Clark of Save A Warrior. The winners will have the potential opportunity to implement and deploy their innovations with VA. (VA photo/Robert Turtil)
From a software platform for traumatic brain injury to a virtual reality device that assists Veterans with behavioral health issues, 15 competitors pitched a diversity of ideas during demo day at the Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion summit, hosted by VA on May 18 in Boston.
The annual two-day event assembled more than 350 invited participants from the federal government, private industry, professional sports, medical research, caregivers and Veteran communities to collaborate and advance discussions around the prevention and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussion.
“We have an unbelievable opportunity to accelerate the speed of change,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, CEO of Optum Military and Veterans Group, to the 15 industry and academic innovators who had come to pitch their ideas on TBI and head trauma to a panel of judges. “Today, the impossible gets challenged.”
After reviewing a series of short presentations from competitors, the judges selected three winners: The Daptly Display, a gesture and voice-controlled assistant for the home or office; Save a Warrior: A peer-to-peer, archetypal approach for healing combat trauma and moral injury; and Recovery Acceleration Program for mild TBI by King-Devick Technologies. The winners will have the potential opportunity to implement and deploy their innovations with VA.
“We feel incredibly honored to be selected as a winner of the VA Innovation awards, which will further our opportunity to provide services to our Veterans,” said Steve Devick, CEO of King-Devick Technologies, who explained how his project would help Veterans impacted by TBI. “The King-Devick technologies innovations are related to the fact that eye movements and vision are responsible for approximately 55 percent of brain function.
“As a result, implementing our recovery acceleration program by involving these pathways leads to faster concussions and TBI recovery when used with standard remediation. Additionally, caregivers can measure defects in eye movements, which may lead to dosage changes in chronic degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. ”
During the event, VA officials announced key partnerships with several influential organizations, including: Amazon, which donated 100 Echo devices with Alexa voice service to VA’s Assistive Technology Labs to help meet the needs of Veterans; Cohen Veterans Bioscience, which is coordinating efforts with VA to integrate data across dozens of labs to facilitate breakthroughs in trauma-related disorders; Booz Allen Hamilton; Comcast; Concussion Legacy Foundation; GE; IBM; Infinite Hero Foundation; Johnson & Johnson; Optum; Outward Bound; PenFed Foundation, Philips; the Warrior Care Network and the National Institutes of Health, which is co-hosting a ‘State of the Science’ workshop in 2018 that will focus on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Paula A. Paige is a public affairs officer in VA’s Office of Media Relations. Prior to joining VA, she was a public affairs officer at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. Paula is an award-winning journalist, who worked in various leadership roles at the Star-Ledger Newspaper in New Jersey, the Stamford Advocate in Connecticut and Newsday in New York. She is also an Air Force Veteran with more than 26 years of service, including active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.