AMERICAN FORK, Utah, August 8, 2017 (Newswire.com) – Increased financial burden on families, insurance, and governments for the costs associated with treating mental health issues has prompted Mendability, a company delivering a unique therapy, to offer its renowned program free online.
Mendability, which uses Sensory Enrichment Therapy (SET), is embracing the innovative pricing model referred to as “freemium.” Freemium offers the base software for free, but there is an opportunity to pay for proprietary features and additional support tools such as therapy coaching, motivational support, custom reports and testing and other affordable upgrades.
Mendability’s decision to provide the fully-functioning, free version that includes everything needed to obtain full access to the therapy “means that insurance does not need to be involved, high costs for government programs are reduced, and nobody needs to be left out,” explained Claudie Pomares, a co-founder of Mendability with co-founders Kim Pomares, and Bob Hillyer.
(It’s) a simple and easy-to-implement series of environmental enrichment experiences (that) has been shown to greatly reduce the severity of symptoms in children with autism.
“Google did it for searches, Facebook did it for social media, Pandora and Spotify for music, Dropbox for data storage, yet health care is a little different,” said Kim Pomares. “You can’t bring surgery or hospital care into the home. However, in our case, we have a non-invasive sensory enriching therapy that is simple enough for parents to do and yet powerful enough to have significant improvements in symptoms.”
“We have proven it can be successful through online delivery in a study using our technology with more than 1,000 children with great results. So, this opens the door not only for freemium possibilities, but also to expand research into other possible implementations such as Alzheimer’s disease. We are just getting started with a great new technology,” added Hillyer.
Aside from the rising incidence of developmental delays, the lifetime costs associated with a developmental delay can be staggering. A 2011 study from the School of Mental Health reported a child with ADHD will, on average, cost society $4,689 more than a student without ADHD each year1. For a child with autism, the costs are even higher. A 2014 study in the medical journal JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics estimated the lifetime cost of a child with autism at $1.4 million, which increases to $2.2 million if the child also has an intellectual disability2.
“In the midst of a growing mental health care crisis, and limited options for families who have children with various developmental or neurological concerns, it is imperative that effective, affordable options be developed and that we find a way to use low-cost technologies to solve some of these problems,” commented Scott Badesch, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America.
SET is a protocol backed by three critical scientific studies. The first is an award-winning study from University of California – Irvine and the second verified the results of the first, smaller study. In the third, more than 1,000 subjects participated. The UCI data showed at least six times as many children have experienced significant improvements when SET is added to their treatment programs, compared to children participating in standard care alone3.
“(It’s) a simple and easy-to-implement series of environmental enrichment experiences (that) has been shown to greatly reduce the severity of symptoms in children with autism,” stated Temple Grandin, Ph. D., in her latest book The Way I See It.4 “The therapy consists of a variety of sensory exercises that are done for 30 minutes a day. . . The program was designed to use economical and readily available household materials. Research with animals has clearly shown that combinations of olfactory (smell) and tactile stimulation are very beneficial to the developing brain. Stimulation of the senses of both smell and touch with constantly changing stimulation is a foundation of the therapy.”
Mendability’s decision to provide their program for free places them among the few start-ups to offer telehealth as a freemium service. The telehealth industry is expected to boom to a value of more than $34 billion by 2020, according to a Mordor Intelligence Market Research Report5, in part because the need for access to health care in smaller communities, the increase cost of specialists, and the loss of family doctors in many cities.
Mendability is beginning by limiting the free offer to the United States and Canada, but people from other countries can also access the therapy for a low-cost minimum charge.
The CDC states that one in six children has a development delay6 and ADHD leads in that category with more than one in 10 children affected as of 20117. Autism is also a rapidly growing concern currently reporting one in 68 children is affected, more than double the number from the report in 20078.
3. Mendability’s Sensory Enrichment Therapy was studied in three different studies measuring the effectiveness of the therapy in reducing symptoms of various developmental delays. The first, (http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/bne-127-4-487.pdf) published in 2013, focused on autism and was awarded the D.G Marquis award for best paper of the year in Behavioral Neuroscience by the American Psychological Association (http://www.apadivisions.org/division-6/awards/marquis.aspx?tab=3). It found six times as many children experienced significant improvements when Sensory Enrichment Therapy was added into their treatment programs. The second study(http://escholarship.org/uc/item/9sw054xg), published in 2015, as a replication study confirmed the results of the first study and additionally showed that 21% of children lost their classical autism diagnosis over the course of six months of treatment only when Sensory Enrichment Therapy was applied. Finally, a large study (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/2734915/) involving 1002 children published in Neural Plasticity in 2016 showed improvements not only for autism but also ADHD and other developmental delays, as well as similar improvements across all ages from 1 to 18 years old.
4. Dr. Temple Grandin. The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism & Asperger’s: 32 New Subjects Revised & Updated; Foreword by Dr. Tony Attwood. p. 130