- July 8, 2015
- Posted by: Cheryl Rybka
- Category: Delivery
“Creating the Right Stride”
The vision for MedHab dates back to 2007 when Johnny Ross, Co-Founder and CEO, went through knee reconstruction surgery. When Ross began the rehabilitation process he was to follow a very strict regimen of partial weight bearing and range of motion exercises. Rehab was difficult, as Ross had to estimate how much weight was placed on his injured leg. Additionally, range of motion was determined by a goniometer, which is a protractor type of hand-held instrument, subject to personal biases of the person making the measurements.
Patients can’t determine the amount of weight placed on the affected limb, or how much improvement they are making regarding range of motion. Surgeons and physical therapists need to know details on how the patient is progressing and whether or not they are doing home exercises as prescribed. Not having access to this information makes it difficult to determine when to move the patient to the next stage of rehabilitation, as well as deciding when the rehabilitation should be completed.
After completing renderings and partial design of the device, which resembles a shoe insert with electronics, Ross retained a patent attorney. The device was presented to the U.S. Patent Office and the company officially launched in December 2008. Patents on the technology were received in May, 2011.
MedHab’s patent attorney steered the company to the Tech Fort Worth technology incubator to continue their efforts. Tech Fort Worth Director Darlene Ryan then referred them to TMAC for further technical development assistance. Ms. Ryan serves on the TMAC Advisory Board and knew the Texas MEP Center was a logical next step toward commercialization.
TMAC staff specialist Raul Fernandez, PhD, also a UT-Arlington College of Engineering professor, conducted a technical feasibility study with MedHab early on. MedHab needed to build alpha units in order to prove its concept and secure funding. TMAC’s Fernandez was charged with writing a gait algorithm that sensor manufacturers said couldn’t be done. However he succeeded and the alpha unit’s success helped the company secure $3.1M in private equity investment and $3.2M with the City of San Angelo. The success of the alpha units also contributes to the Federal Food and Drug agency approval process.
The project truly defines a collaborative effort. The company’s Operations VP in San Angelo is working with the TMAC office in West Texas to write grant requests to the Texas Workforce Commission. Besides TMAC’s technical projects, Angelo State College and Howard Community College will also be tapped to provide additional workforce development.
MedHab is now manufacturing three devices and is speaking with a Fortune 500 Health Care Company that has an interest to license or acquire the technology. With help from TMAC’s Richard Bergs and Juan Paramo, MedHab created one of kind machines that are assistive to the manufacture and testing of the devices. Although components are brought in globally, and the microprocessor is fabricated in Vietnam, all other manufacturing and assembly is done in the United States. Specifically, most work, to include distribution is done in San Angelo, TX. where MedHab works closely with the Concho Valley Center for Economic Development. Texas A&M Corpus Christi & Michael Johnson Performance is conducting kinesiology studies, Lamar University began developing Android and IOS applications, which is now in-house, and Fuel7 provides all software/firmware expertise.
Ongoing projects with TMAC include:
• The design of functional testing equipment to ensure product integrity
• The development of protocols and machines to condition and characterize sensors
• Development of manufacturing and testing protocols
What the Future Holds
With the deployment of this technology, rehabilitation professionals will now know what the patient is really doing and have the data to prove it. The data will help refine the course of action required for a successful outcome. MedHab’s product is the only device in the world that can do pressure and range of motion measurements simultaneously. It helps professionals understand the bio-equivalency of limbs. The device may also be used in future to better refine custom fitted prosthetics before the cast is molded.
There is also plenty of opportunity for MedHab in the retail market. With implementation of a running algorithm the product has been redesigned for running where elite athletes and their trainers monitor bi-lateral measurements to prove mechanical differences in limbs, assess running gait, and measure power output. MedHab anticipates the success of the retail side of the business will help fuel the healthcare development side. The technology may eventually develop for use in other areas such as: arm and lumbar rehabilitation, diabetic neuropathy, stroke and Parkinson disease.
MedHab’s technology spawned a third product specifically to monitor falls in the elderly.