Francesca Fedeli

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2015


This profile was prepared when Francesca Fedeli was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2015.
The New Idea
Unlike stroke affecting older people, whose incidence can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, the causes of infant strokes are largely unknown. The phenomenon is more widespread then perceived, with 2-3 every 1000 newborn affected. Through her organization, Fight the Stroke (FTS), Francesca Fedeli is developing a holistic approach to the issue of pediatric stroke, which has far reaching implications for the treatment of a host of other illnesses. She provides families with a coping mechanism to understand what has happened to their children, to feel supported by an international network of parents who share the same situation and to engage in their children’s rehabilitation at home.
Francesca has designed a rehabilitation toolkit which marries technological games and tools with face-to-face home rehabilitation. By applying the latest scientific findings on the brain cells responsible for imitation and empathy (known as mirror neurons) she created a wholly new approach to rehabilitation using wireless videogame technology (based on Microsoft Kinect system). Children get better while playing games, and crucially, the software collects data on each body movement, proposing an ad hoc rehabilitation based on each child’s progress. The collection of data in the long run could also provide a scientific foundation to better understand child stroke and improve its cure, and create a new, integrated model of illness care. By moving rehabilitation from the hospital to the household, parents are also feeling the therapeutic benefits of being directly involved in their children’s improvement. Francesca is harnessing the healing power of empathy –the parent/child bond – to accelerate health outcomes among patients, and empowering parents to rehabilitate their own children. Her combining of video game technology and harnessing the power of empathy has the potential to profoundly transform rehabilitation and cure for all types of traumas.
Francesca began her work in Italy, but after a fellowship in the United States, she is mobilizing an increasing international community of parents to raise awareness on the issue and connect them to the scientific and medical sector. FTS has increased its scope internationally with families engaged through the International Alliance for Pediatric Stroke and the first advocacy and support group in Italy, reaching today more than 200 parents!
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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