Brain Technology in the Service of Patients – an interview with Dr. Dana Doron

Dr. Dana Doron

Dr. Dana Doron

“We still have a long way to go in understanding the human brain,” so says Dr. Dana Doron, who works with patients with acquired brain injury including trauma injuries at Israel’s Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital. Dr. Doron is involved with Israel Brain Technologies (IBT), and is helping to bridge the gap between the needs of patients, and the work being done on brain technology.

Dr. Doron treats patients with brain damage –caused by a stroke, an accident, a tumor or old age – and is frustrated by the limited capability of current medical knowledge to understand the rehabilitation process. “We see different people respond to rehabilitation treatment differently. Some have a high level of recuperation of capabilities, some don’t; some react quickly, some much more slowly… What causes these differences between people? Today we don’t have a deep enough understanding of the human mind.”

“IBT is working to bring people together from different corners of the brain world – entrepreneurs, doctors, investors – so that they can communicate to one another on the needs, and try to focus solutions. This is exactly what is needed,” says Dr. Doron.

One of the things that Dr. Doron is trying to communicate to the brain industry is the importance of the brain-body connection. “We all have this science fiction fantasy of the disassociated brain – that we will be able to replicate a human brain in a computer, for example,” explains Dr. Doron. “And actually there are quite a few companies working on such technologies, in gaming for example. These can be fun and profitable endeavors, but the medical field has many needs that actually focus on understanding the brain-body connection, not disconnecting the brain from the body. It may be less ‘sexy’ but the fact is that, for patients, the brain-body connection is crucial. It is the brain that controls a patient’s ability to swallow, to speak, to control his bodily functions. We need to better understand how this connection works in order to give patients the abilities that will truly improve their quality of life.”

At IBT events, Dr. Doron tries to communicate the needs of patients and the medical community to entrepreneurs and industry. So what mysteries is she looking for solutions to? “I would love to have a mobile technology – not the cumbersome MRI – that a patient could wear and that could tell me more about his or her learning process. I’d really like to be able to see what another person sees, to understand what leads one patient to quickly relearn how to swallow, how to talk, and one patient not. I’m always happy to sit down and brainstorm with people in the brain industry to try to discover new approaches to these challenges.”

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  1. I agree with you, Dr. Doron, that advancing the field of neuro-rehabilitation takes real communication (and open-mindedness) between the various sectors and professionals involved. Regrettably, however, not many professionals are truly open minded and client-focused. Years ago, I visited Tel-Hashomer, trying to contribute some emerging technologies to the then (and perhaps also now) very conservative rehabilitation department. I did not find such open-mindedness then. Hopefully, with the formation of IBT, there would be better support for innovation and evidence-based technology. Good luck.

  2. This work would be so exciting! I am a pediatric OT who works in neurology and with children with traumatic and acquired brain injuries as well as CP. Just think how this could change the life of a child with a developing brain and the ability to use its plasticity. I am in Toronto Ontario Canada and regularly attend workshops on Acquired Brain Injury. Do u ever come to Toronto? I would love to connect you with people who do these workshops and would love to see your facility. I have a client in Haifa and family in Jerusalem so try and visit every 2 years.

  3. This sounds like a wonderful program. My company makes the Kickstart Walking System which helps accelerate walking recovery following neurological injuries. We are located in Seattle in the United States, but please let me know if there is a way we could be involved with your program.

    Brian Glaister