South Korea is plagued by both high rates of suicide and social stigmas surrounding mental health treatment, a situation that makes treating depression challenging. Ybrain, a local startup, has developed a product that they’re hoping will help turn the tide: Mindd, a headband that delivers transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the frontal lobe.
Decreased activity in the brain’s frontal lobe is associated with depression. Therefore, the headband delivers a small stream of electricity to the region, to stimulate the area. The electricity is conducted through a saline-soaked absorbent pad that touches the forehead during treatment. About 20 percent of the electrical waves Mindd generates reach the brain.
Part of the appeal of this device is that it can be used at home, which might help patients avoid the stigma of mental health treatments. However, it does store data from users which is sent automatically to their doctor, including records of when they received the electricity therapy, what hours they slept, and their physical activity levels — all via a smartphone app. Ideally, doctors could use this data to monitor the well-being of their patients and incrementally improve their treatment regimens.
“By objectively recording everyday health markers that were previously reliant on the subjective memory of the patient, we hope to improve the quality of medical treatments,” Ybrain’s founding CEO Lee Ki-won told The Korea Herald.