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Courtesy of MindMaze

Combining virtual reality and neuroscience may help a stroke patient's brain recover more quickly.

That's according to MindMaze, a Swiss company (with U.S. headquarters in San Francisco) that just received FDA approval to bring its virtual reality platform to the U.S. market, after already selling it in Europe. The "neurorehabilitation" platform, called MindMotion Pro, uses 3D motion tracking cameras to coordinate movement and brain function and then analyzes that data to tailor therapy, CEO and co-founder Tej Tadi told Axios.

Why it matters: A growing number of virtual reality use cases are in healthcare settings, for both medical training and assisting with therapy. Now that it is FDA-approved — a big win for any startup— MindMaze's virtual reality device will be among the first to be used in U.S. hospitals to assist with therapy after brain injury.

How it works: Using sensors and tracking cameras, MindMotion Pro maps a patient's movements of arms or fingers on a 3D avatar seen on the video-game-like platform. Even if a patient can't actually go through the motions, imagining that they are doing so through the avatar helps activate damaged areas of the brain trigger new neural activity.

Tadi calls it "an operating system for the brain," which can repair a damaged brain and enhance learning for a healthy one. Early partners include Stanford and University of California San Francisco.

It's not cheap: A hospital-grade device runs about $80,000, Tadi said.

Go deeper

Trump's Republican critics rake in cash

Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger during the first Jan. 6 hearing. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Republican critics of Donald Trump have raked in campaign cash this year as their votes to impeach the former president and investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack have put them in the crosshairs of Trump and his allies.

Why it matters: The 2022 midterms won't just determine which party controls Congress. They're also shaping up to be a test of Trump's continued hold on the GOP. The few remaining Republican dissenters in Washington need to put up big fundraising numbers if they hope to stave off a purge.

The Republicans' mixed mandate message

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans have expressed selective rage amid the rise of the Delta variant: They rail against the return of indoor masking but are far less vocal about vaccine requirements.

Why it matters: Masking may help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but the real solution to the pandemic is getting more Americans vaccinated. Increased support for that — including the use of heavier-handed methods like mandates — will only increase its chance of succeeding.

Mitch’s Sinema secret

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging his fellow Republicans to buck up Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — a Democrat, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans view Sinema and her moderate Democratic colleague Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia as their last line of defense against sweeping progressive laws — ranging from a $3.5 trillion social welfare bill to potentially irreversible structural changes like eliminating the filibuster and adding new states to the union.