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Tranquility Dome


Defending and protecting individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

PTSD. The acronym itself flashes images of shell-shocked soldiers. Today, however, the impact of events such as a global pandemic, natural disasters, abusive relationships, major illnesses and car accidents, among others, has broadened the reach of this challenging mental health disorder.

The statistics are daunting. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 250 million people around the world are affected by PTSD.

Although I have lived in Israel on and off for 30 years, October 7 changed everything and became an open wound for our entire country. Sadly, this will exact an immense psychological toll on survivors, the hostages and their families, the tens of thousands of displaced civilians, soldiers, first responders and civilian emergency response teams and first-hand witnesses to the tragic reality of the ruthless attacks. Months have passed and we still don't fully understand the effect on our country and our people.

Moreover, the trauma is being played out minute-by-minute on mobile phones around the world. As the images and videos stream from social media, we keep living the trauma over and over again. Each of us can choose to continue passively doomscrolling or spring into some type of action.

I never knew that it was Joan Baez who coined the phrase, "Action is the antidote to despair".

Immediately following October 7, Oded Kraft, co-founder and CEO, Rani Cohen, co-founder and Executive Chairman and Shai Attia, co-founder and VP R&D at GrayMatters Health (GMH) moved into action. Plans for Tranquility Dome were drawn up how to rapidly deploy the company's Prism for PTSD to help people in need in Israel. Of course, they were also making sure that their team was okay, including those drafted, or those whose spouse or child had been drafted to reserve duty.

I am the VP of Marketing at this small, yet growing startup in Haifa that is transforming mental healthcare to help improve patient outcomes. The company's flagship product, Prism for PTSD, is the first self-neuromodulation device to receive FDA clearance as a prescribed adjunct therapy for PTSD. In simple language, self-neuromodulation means that the patient is in control, learning to tune down a digital biomarker associated with specific brain activity affected by PTSD.

This is not science fiction; this is neuroscience and it all begins in the amygdala. The amygdala, a small, deep region of our brain, is part of the emotion regulation system and the control center of our fight-flight-freeze response. Research has shown that PTSD is associated with hyperactivity of the amygdala. Prism for PTSD helps a patient turn down the amygdala-based biomarker to help alleviate their symptoms.

In parallel to the launch of Prism for PTSD and planned installations in the US, a Tranquility Dome task force has been formed to bring Prism treatment to the victims in Israel. One of the unique and beautiful aspects of the Israeli culture is the way people come together in times of tragedy. Since the company had just received approval from the Israel Ministry of Health for Prism, the GMH team pushed the plan into high gear.

Rani Cohen, who is leading this effort, commented, "Our entire country has been traumatized and it will take a unified response to heal us. This is our company's way of doing its part".

So far, Prism for PTSD systems have been installed and teams trained at three outpatient clinics at major hospitals. GMH are in discussions with several other clinics and HMOs. The target is to deploy systems to support the treatment of thousands of people over the period of six months at no cost. GrayMatters Health is providing the software, training and support of the clinical sites across Israel. Donors are helping to cover the costs of the computer and EEG equipment required for the treatment.

Human beings are resilient. When they are exposed to difficulties, many can persevere, and come out on the other side stronger. However, some individuals are not able to do this. Research studies have shown that about 30% of individuals who are exposed to a traumatic event will develop PTSD. For those individuals, psychotherapy and medications provide moderate relief from symptoms that range from being easily startled, to difficulty sleeping to angry outbursts, which are severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Prism for PTSD is a completely different type of therapy. During the Prism procedure, the patient sits in a quiet room in front of a computer monitor. They are fitted with an EEG headset that passively monitors brain activity, like a fitness monitor that measures your heart rate. On the monitor is a crowded and loud computer simulation. The patient practices using their own mental strategy – a personal memory, emotion or experience – tuning down the amygdala-based biomarker to get the avatars in the simulation to calm down. Over the course of 15 Prism sessions, patients practice the same strategy which can then be used in daily life to control their PTSD symptoms.

Prism for PTSD offers two unique advantages over current therapy alone. First, it puts the patient in the driver's seat as they discover and practice the mental strategy that works just for them. Second, the mental healthcare provider guides the process, helping to strengthen the relationship and trust between a physician and their patient.

My experience has been that Israelis have developed a way of processing tragic events and getting back to work and life. During his acceptance speech for the Prix Galien 2023 award for Best Startup, CEO Oded Kraft shared, "That's why GrayMatters Health is here. To help all those who have PTSD get better. And now that we have won this award, and I thank the Galien Foundation for awarding it to us, it's time to get back to work. There's a lot of healing that needs to be done."

For me, the most important outcome of Tranquility Dome is the people who have begun their Prism therapy regimen. These individuals represent the colorful mosaic of Israel society as well as the wide spectrum of trauma. No matter what, the team at GMH remains committed to helping people get better from the wounds of trauma and we look forward to quieter times.

Tranquility Dome is guided by Prof. Talma Hendler, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, founding director of the Sagol Brain Institute Tel Aviv, and Chief Medical Scientist at GMH, Prof Eyal Fruchter, Chairman of the National Council for Post-Trauma in Israel and GM of Maale Carmel Mental Health Hospital, Professor Raz Gross from Sheba Medical Center, Daniela Amital, MD, Head of the Psychiatric Department at Barzilai Medical Center, and Professor Gal Shoval from Geha Hospital for Mental Health and Medical Director at GMH.


Rani Cohen participated in a delegation of Israeli healthcare startups in the House of the Lords in the UK. See the report in the Facebook page link¬if_id=1718802496519222¬if_t=feed_comment&ref=notif

CEO Oded Kraft receiving the Prix Galien 2023 Best Startup award for GrayMatters Health.


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Thursday, 25 July 2024

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