The year I started Fizika Group, my mother was dying of complications related to vascular dementia. She was having mini strokes which eroded her pre-frontal cortex. After a lifetime of mental illness, her brain was falling apart. She became confrontational at the point of care, which resulted in me having to move her to a different facility every two weeks, to give the staff a break.
My father died nine months before, leaving me as my mother’s healthcare advocate. It was a very difficult summer. My daughter had graduated from high school and was hoping to spend time traveling with our family before she entered college in the fall. Instead, she watched her mother try to juggle starting a company while supporting her irascible, unpredictable mother in her final months of life.
To keep my sanity, I read all I could find about Alzheimer’s and dementia. I discovered the work of Dr. Daniel Amen, founder the Amen Clinic. His pioneering book Preventing Alzheimer’s, helped me understand the many different types of dementia and related brain disorders. More importantly, it provided a prescription for how to prevent or reduce the risk of developing dementia.
His recommendations closely mirrored the research that led me to found Fizika. Exercise, eating a balanced, nutritious diet, getting plenty of sleep and hydrating the brain daily by drinking water, can reduce the risk of brain disease.
I had an “AHA” moment. The neuroscience research that shows how important physical activity is to building neural pathways in developing brains can also prevent the loss of neurological capacity later in life.
The seeds of Fizikaflex were planted that summer. I launched Fizika Group in 2010 with an initial focus on professional development. We aimed to help educators learn how to apply brain science to help students learn through physical activity, project based learning and creative play.
I continued to read the research published by the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation and others and wondered how Fizika could help other families avoid the pain of losing their loved ones to crippling brain disease.
I attended a Brain Futures conference in Washington DC in September 2017 and was fascinated to learn the research of Dr. Norman Doidge, Dr. John Ratey, the Harvard researcher whose book SPARK stimulated Fizika’s early formation. Like me, Dr. Ratey’s research interest was focused on helping seniors stay active and engaged in order to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
In 2018, I was invited to partner with AndCulture’s new Tech Accelerator program called Catamaran. I worked for three months through a human-centered design process to design and build a prototype of Fizikaflex. I chose the name flex because flexibility in all forms is key to remaining healthy: Cognitive, Social, Physical and Emotional.
Fizika Group adheres to the principles of Human Centered Design. The initial prototype and now Fizikaflex 2.0 have been developed with input from real people and organizations who will ultimately purchase and benefit by using Fizikaflex.
The research basis for Fizikaflex stems from two related neurological phenomenons:
- Neurogenesis – the ability of brains to create new cells
- Neuroplasticity – the ability of our brains to make new synaptic connections
For more information, check out this tutorial on the Brain Futures website:
We tested the prototype with 60 seniors last summer. Many used it for twelve weeks or more, They found the easy to use interface and community leaderboard helpful in keeping them motivated to make healthy choices everyday.
Encouraged by the market feedback, we have invested time and energy in creating a more robust version of Fizikaflex, one that can synchronize data from biometric devices like Fitbit and tailored to personal diet preferences and requirements. The daily health journal is designed to help seniors adhere to best practices in terms of exercise, steps, nutrition, hydration and sleep.
Fizikaflex is designed for use in senior living communities who are committed to providing the best resources for abundant aging. Community administrators can create custom challenges to help residents achieve their personal fitness goals. Caregivers are given permission to view the daily health journal of their loved ones, in order to bolster adherence and keep everyone informed.
I am on a journey to help all seniors live as healthy and productive lives as possible. Thank you for joining this effort. Let me know if you would like to be part of a core group of seniors who will be testing Fizikaflex 2.0 this summer. We aim to help you and the seniors you love and care for be empowered to take charge of their health.
Founder and CEO Fizika Group, LLC
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