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14-year-old's award-winning device helps treat mental health issues with music

Sarah Park
Posted at 1:28 PM, Dec 22, 2021

When loved ones are hurting, people will do anything to help them.

For 14-year-old Sarah Park of Jacksonville, Florida, that love inspired an invention that won her a national prize.

"My grandmother, she suffered from some mental health illnesses like depression. But when she heard my violin playing, and music in general, she really released her positive emotions," Sarah said.

Sarah won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge with her invention, Spark Care+. It's a music therapy device that monitors a person's reaction to music by tracking skin and blood vessel changes and user interaction.

Artificial intelligence then determines the best music to help that person, be it classical, rock or any other genre.

"So, this whole Spark Care+ device aims to help with mental health and emotional well-being, because the healing power of music can actually activate the hormones of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine that common medications also release without any side effects," Sarah said.

With her prize winnings, Sarah hopes to develop Spark Care+ by getting a patent and creating an app to make it accessible to more people.