Fight the Stroke was established in 2014, as an association with the mission to advocate for a better future for young stroke survivors and their families. Their story started when in 2011, Roberto and Francesca’s son, Mario, was diagnosed with perinatal stroke at just 10 days old. As parents, they wanted to find a suitable solution for their son, but were unable to find anything in the market that was useful for early detection, cure, diagnosis, or even simply support for the family. Therefore, they established the association to leverage the use of scientific research and technology to offer new products and solutions for families who are also in the same boat.
Mirrorable and the shift to social enterprise
Mirrorable, the organisation’s flagship project, is based on the concept of rehabilitation through stimulation of mirror neurons. The idea is to show a child how to perform certain actions like grabbing a pencil, and even though the child is not able to actually grab it, they are stimulated to exercise the cells in the damaged part of the brain.
This new model of rehabilitation has three main benefits over traditional models. Firstly, it saves time, effort and resources for families and children going through rehabilitation. Instead of going to hospitals or other places far from home for just a couple of hours per week, Mirrorable offers rehabilitation that is accessible directly at home. Secondly, and most importantly, the model is designed so that the sessions do not seem like rehabilitation sessions. In the eyes of the children, they are simply young magicians who are learning how to perform tricks. Thirdly, the platform contains a peer education component, which allows children and families to connect with other families to practice together.
The Mirrorable project marks Fight the Stroke’s first transition to a social enterprise model—the project’s interactive rehabilitation platform was the first concrete solution the team was able to provide to families. Since then, the organisation has continued to run both the association and the social enterprise as two separate entities; but with the inclusion of the social enterprise model, they minimized reliance on grants and donations.
Running a pilot
To be scientifically validated, the Mirrorable team ran a clinical trial in December 2017. They recruited more than 50 children and families and tested the platform for a few months, with kids participating in the sessions every day on weekdays. Through the pilot stage, they were able to demonstrate that their solution is more effective than traditional rehabilitation methods.
What are they measuring?
The platform collects data based on 3 main Key Performance Indicators (KPI): child’s motor outcome (measured using a 3D camera included in families’ toolkits); compliance (measured to keep track of families that may be experiencing burnout); and engagement (measured to see if motor outcomes differ when children are connected). Impressively, the pilot generated a 100% compliance rate.
What propels their impact?
Mirrorable embodies the heart of digital social innovation. Building on their personal story, Roberto and Francesca leveraged digital technology to craft a solution that they can then share with families who are facing similar challenges. Since the beginning, the Mirrorable team have emphasised co-creation, developing a design-thinking group of experts, families and children, and testing and retesting concepts with them.
Their co-creation approach was also supported by their focus on community engagement; the support group that Roberto and Francesca established on Facebook started small, but have now grown significantly on a global level. Their emphasis on community building also led them to be awarded by Facebook for the way in which they engaged families and built community leadership circles.
Roberto and Francesca realised that families across the world who have children with motor impairment due to brain damage are looking for information. Therefore, they expanded their reach outside of Italy and introduced their solution to English-speaking countries like the UK, US, and Canada, as well as Spanish-speaking countries in Europe and Central and South America. The key to their global approach is building a broad network-- they became a part of a bigger network by joining the board of the International Alliance of Pediatric Stroke, and formed networks with other Spanish organisations.
Fight the Stroke is now looking to scale up and deliver its product to the market. They are aiming to raise capital, especially from the impact investing sector, leveraging on the fact that they are an organisation that is fulfilling a concrete social need through the use of technology and the weaving of communities.
Case study date: June 2018