October 1, 2018
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Next 2018: Brian Harris and Owen McCarthy move music therapy into the digital age

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Owen McCarthy, president of MedRhythms, is a certified neurologic music therapist, while Brian Harris, the company's CEO, has a background in biological engineering. Their Portland-based business blends technology, music therapy and neuroscience.

Owen McCarthy and Brian Harris

Owen McCarthy, president; Brian Harris, CEO MedRhythms, Portland


183 Middle St., Portland

Founded: 2015

What the company does: The digital therapeutics startup uses sensors, music and artificial intelligence to measure and improve walking for people with neurological injuries or diseases such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and Parkinson's disease.

Contact: 781-629-9713

Brian Harris is a certified neurologic music therapist, while Owen McCarthy studied biological engineering. They launched MedRhythms out of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, where they continue to work toward getting FDA approval for prescription products that blend technology, music therapy and neuroscience. They chose to provide joint answers to questions.

Mainebiz: Why focus on the neurological music therapy niche?

Brian Harris and Owen McCarthy: While the field of neurologic music therapy may be small, the need for this care is not. There is a large unmet need to help people recover across neurologic injury and disease populations, including Parkinson's disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease and autism. It has been shown that music can improve functional outcomes related to walking in these populations, of which there are over 5 million people suffering from walking problems in the U.S. alone. Our vision is to give all who would benefit from these improved outcomes the ability to do so.

MB: How will you spend the $5 million you just raised?

BH and OM: The capital raised will be used to expand our team, primarily in engineering, to take our product from a prototype stage to being commercially ready. We will continue the process with the FDA and build the infrastructure to continue to grow a large company in Maine.

MB: Why did you move the business to Portland and what are your expansion plans?

BH and OM: The state of Maine has been very supportive of MedRhythms thus far in our journey, particularly through grants and capital from the Maine Technology Institute and the Maine Venture Fund, as well as through various FAME programs. We are also from Maine and wanted to build a company here that provided jobs for Maine's people. Portland is an evolving city that is continually offering more opportunities in both entrepreneurship and larger, established enterprises. These are the principle factors adding to the excitement of building a company here.

MB: Where do you see MedRhythms in five years from now?

BH and OM: In five years from now, MedRhythms intends to have released multiple products for multiple diagnoses to improve walking. However, the people we serve do not just suffer from walking deficits; neurologic injuries and diseases commonly affects movement, language and cognition. MedRhythms anticipates that, in five years time, we will have already started imagining how we can use technology to address these additional deficits within our target end-user populations and what that suite of products will look like. Our growth as a company will have created many sustainable, high-tech jobs, contributing to the ever-evolving tech ecosystem in southern Maine. All of these steps will be laser-focused on fulfilling our mission of providing care to millions of people who need it.

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