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Pop a Pill? No! There’s a Better Way

By Shlomo Maital

Aziz Kaddan

Aziz Kaddan, Amir Khalaily, Hilal Diab, Anas Abu-Mukh

   Arab culture is highly entrepreneurial.   Given the right opportunities, Arab entrepreneurs could transform the Arab world, shifting Western attention from ISIS and its vicious violence to IS (Innovation Startups).  Here is an example (thanks to Sharona, my wife, who drew my attention to this story).

     ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder  is widely treated with a drug, Ritalin.  Novartis sells $350 m. worth of methylphenidate (Ritalin) each quarter.  When kids have problems in school, it’s super easy for teachers to demand that they pop a pill – even if the problems could be addressed differently, with a little effort.  In general, our pop-a-pill society plays into the hands of Big Pharma, and sometimes does immense harm to us all.  Ritalin is now used widely as a recreational drug, too.   For Big Pharma, it’s all just money.

      NASA developed a computer-based technique to improve attention, focus and learning.  Now, Aziz Kaddan, age 22, an Israeli Arab,  and three friends have launched a startup, Myndlift, that uses biofeedback to deal with ADHD.  It’s an app-based wearable solution, together with mobile games that work only through attention, and boost attention levels with only 10 minutes of play time a day.  Kaddan is the son of a neurologist, and got a computer science degree at the age of 19. 

       Friends urged Kaddan to up the price of his app (it’s only $15 for the premium version), but he and the founders believe that to keep this solution accessible, it has to be quite cheap.  (Big Pharma – don’t you just love it?). 

      Over the years, I’ve taught many students with ADHD.  Most of them avoided Ritalin, and instead developed their own personal unique ways to focus and deal with their challenges.  Sometimes, the ADHD was even a blessing, because it appears that those with ADHD happen to be very creative. 

      Next time you have a problem, and someone tells you to pop a pill,  think about it for a while.  Sometimes you really do need that pill.  Sometimes, you can manage better without it.

 Thanks to  Aziz and his friends for showing us another way, other than pill popping.  I hope their story will inspire other Israeli Arab entrepreneurs.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital