Interview with Alexander Theodorou, the founder and CEO of Neurofit

What is your role at Neurofit?
I am the founder and CEO of Neurofit.

What is Neurofit?
Neurofit is like a Fitbit for the brain. We create virtual reality and web-based experiences
that personalize therapeutic brain exercises.

Can you explain the developmental history of the device?
A little over 15 years ago, my dad had a stroke while I was in school researching brain
injuries. I realized there were fundamental issues in the overall patient experience, specifically
how patients are supported, how they feel throughout the journey, and the overall outcome. I
took it upon myself to say, is there anything else that can be done? Is there a way to enhance
the patient’s experience to make it more meaningful? Is there a better way to meet a patient’s
unique needs and give their recovery a personal touch?
We have essentially turned the tests and cognitive training into games and created scenarios to
model the experiences. Instead of doing a paper-based test that can be challenging for many
reasons, we gamify the experience by creating models of real-life experiences. How they
navigate these unfamiliar and new areas can show which skill they rely on and their coping
mechanisms. As a result, their experience is unique to them and conducted in support and
conjunction with clinical care. Leaders and experts in the field can help us better inform our
practices and specific exercises. We also speak with people living with these challenges to
understand what they are looking for in their recovery journey. We hope to help people with
brain injuries and other neurological disorders. However, currently we are unable to help people
with severe conditions because of our current technology. We are working towards being more
inclusive and have a wide age range, from 10 to 87. We want to create an enjoyable and
meaningful experience for anyone.

How is the efficacy or success of the product measured?
We are currently in the efficacy validation stage and have tested it on a smaller scale. Our pilot
studies work primarily with adults and have found that our device supports cognitive recognition
memory. We also noticed a mood-boosting effect due to using the device. This could imply that
the device can support people at greater risk of suffering from mood-related issues, including
anxiety and depression. This is exciting, but it is still in the early stages.
We have only been around for a year, and we have been working with partners across Canada
and in the United States through an initiative called Neurofit Fam. This will allow us to reach
people on a larger scale. 2,030 people have used the device, and we want to see hundreds of
thousands of people using it. This is a global problem, and we want to have a global solution.

How does the process work as a patient?
It is pretty straightforward. We typically work with older adults and younger children and hope to
create something as easy to use as it is enjoyable. First, you answer a set of questions and fill
out a sliding scale based on how you are feeling. Then you are given exercises that target
specific areas of cognitive functioning. These areas mainly include core executive functioning
skills: sustained attention, long-term memory, short-term memory, working memory, and
visuospatial processing. The cool thing about neurofit is that you get points for completing each
activity that can be redeemed in a virtual space called the zen garden, which allows patients to
visualize their process and what they accomplished in the session. The garden becomes their
badge of honor or a place they build based on their improvements.

Can you explain the device?
Currently, we have a VR program and a website. The virtual reality device has been
complicated for patients to use during covid, and we have temporarily put it on the back burner.
We are currently working on a Neurofit web solution, a flagship product that distills the VR
programs into a web-based platform. No downloads are necessary – all you need is a mouse
and an internet connection. Currently, the program is used under the supervision of a healthcare
professional, but it would become homework that can be done on the patient’s own time in the
near future.

How do you create the specific exercises to improve cognitive functions?
It is a combination of input from healthcare providers, researchers, game designers, and
developers. We want to create something unique and very cognizant of accessibility and
inclusion. Our number one priority is that no one feels left out. As a result, we are continually
speaking to the people we aim to help, and champions in the space, so we can identify what
they wish they had or what was difficult for them to access.

What would you tell someone hesitant to try the product?
I would say that there are no risk factors in using the device. We know that we’re not a one-size-
fits-all approach, but we also want to work with people who are open to trying new things and
want to improve their rehabilitation, brain health, and wellness. We want to work with people
who are willing to take this chance with us and help us build something incredible to help people
around the world.

Who do you envision the device helping in the future?
Right now, our focus is neurological disorders, including cerebral palsy, concussion, and stroke.
Those are the main conditions, but we are looking into helping people with congenital disorders
like autism.

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