Homegrown Business: Mark Watson & Howard Eaton of ABI Wellness Inc.

ABI Wellness Inc. is a Vancouver business whose proprietary BEARS Platform helps private clinics and hospital systems provide better care to patients with brain injuries or other cognitive challenges. We spoke with Mark Watson and Howard Eaton, co-founders, to find out more about them.

ABI Wellness Inc.

What is your business called and what does it do?

The business name is ABI Wellness Inc. Our proprietary BEARS Platform helps private clinics and hospital systems provide better care to patients with brain injuries or other cognitive challenges. Our technology and services improve the executive functioning of individuals, resulting in a higher return to work statistics and improvements in quality of life. Currently, very few opportunities are available to help this underserved population

What made you want to do this work?

We both struggled in school due to learning disabilities. This inspired us to want to help others improve their own quality of life. As a result, we started the Eaton Arrowsmith School in Vancouver for children and adults with learning disabilities. This school focused on using the Arrowsmith Program to enhance cognitive functioning, which improves the brain’s ability to learn without strategies or compensations. At our school, we got referrals from the health industry regarding individuals who had suffered a brain injury. We decided to see if the Arrowsmith Program could help that population as well. We did research at the University of British Columbia on this population and we found success. We discovered that, yes, an individual with a brain injury can improve cognitive functioning just like our students with learning disabilities. This research inspired us to start ABI Wellness. Additionally, over the years in running the schools, people with brain injury came to our schools in need of programs that could help them to increase cognitive capacities. Witnessing the changes in these amazing people inspired us greatly and motivated us to make it more available.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

What we learned doing research is that individuals with brain injuries had significant problems with memory, processing speed, attention and reasoning. This was resulting in a low return to work outcomes and a significant reduction in quality of life. We realized that the Arrowsmith Program that we were using for individuals with learning disabilities would be of great benefit in the healthcare industry. Nobody was doing this kind of cognitive intervention in the health care industry. Rather, the health care professionals were just trying to get their clients with brain injury to cope in real life using strategies and compensations rather than actually changing dysfunctional brain networks through target cognitive exercises.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

We work directly with healthcare companies that serve the brain injury population, whether it be private clinics or hospital systems. We provide a site license, professional training and program guidance with each of our licensees. We currently have clients from around North America.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

We earn revenue with each site license.

Where in the city can we find your profession?

We are based in Langley but our clinical partners span North America.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

What makes the ABI Wellness platform better than the current standard of care in rehabilitation?

While other cognitive care models focus on compensation strategies, our platform is based on neuroplastic programming and aligns inter-disciplinary care that helps this population enhance cognition at a higher rate with more engagement and better long-term improvements in capacity and quality of life.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part of what we do is that we are improving the quality of life of individuals with brain injuries. Those individuals are why we do what we do. This is our passion. The worst part is feeling like we have not yet reached more individuals who don’t realize they have recovery options and hope for a better quality of life!

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

Not really a joke but a common saying is: if you have seen one brain injury then you have seen one brain injury. This speaks to the fact that every brain is different and the need for a program like ours which empowers the individual to change their brain and life.

Where can we follow you?

You can follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

We also have a podcast called Brain Mastery that you can listen to on Spotify, Apple, Google or Amazon.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

We have to give a shout-out here to one of our local partners. Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic is one of our new clinical providers here in BC. They specialize in neurorehabilitation and our program is one of the many pieces that their incredible team uses to do so much good for their clients.