3D printing helps Better Walk to design and build a better crutch
(ED NOTE: Geez, the guy has a story and a picture with President Obama; need I say more?)
July 4, 2014
After Partha Unnava spent a summer on crutches after breaking his ankle playing basketball, he knew that things had to change. While on crutches he experienced severe underarm pain and asked other people he knew on crutches if they experienced the same problems as he did. After hearing nearly everyone he asked complain about the same aspects of the crutch, he and two fellow biomedical engineering students at Georgia Tech, Andrew Varghese and Frankie Swindell, decided to fix the problem.
In May 2013, the three formed a company called Better Walk to design a more effective crutch that removes force from a crutch user’s underarm area and reduces the amount of direct force through a user’s wrist.
There are already high-end ergonomically friendly crutches like Mobi and IWalk on the market, with roughly the same $120 price tag Better Walk is offering, so what makes Better Walk different from these products?
Better Walk is dreaming big. Co-founder and CEO Partha Unnava has said the company wants to be “the Nike brand of crutches” and they are bringing 3D printing into the concept. Unnava said that 3D printing cut the time and funding needed for creating prototypes, and also helps them to start testing and redesigning products much faster than traditional methods.
“We were able to create visual demonstrations of different iterations and changes suggested to us by orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists, and within a few weeks after the suggestions were made, take in the updated design for further feedback,” Unnava said.
The new technology helps Better Walk to come up a design that differs from other competitors. Their crutch includes an angled handle and an attached holster, providing more support to the wrist and forearm. The side contact piece is designed for a more comfortable resting position. It makes it impossible for the user to put any weight on their underarms, ridding their underarm pain completely.
In 2013 Better Walk was selected as one of six companies to participate in the Zero To 510 accelerator in Memphis, TN. and has raised $150,000 in seed funding.
At the first ever White House Maker Faire held in Jun, 2014, Unnava, was chosen to exhibit the Better Walk crutch to President Barack Obama. Additionally, he was selected to present a 3D printed letter to President Obama on behalf of 150 universities who committed to strengthen their Maker movements and services.
Currently the company is finishing product development and is planning for a product launch in 2014. Partha said six orthopedic surgeons have already signed letters of intent to purchase the crutch. While a traditional crutch can sell for as little as $32 at the local stores, Better Walk’s 3D printed crutch is priced at $120. But Partha said that the device falls under the reimbursement code for a forearm crutch, so when hospitals buy it, they can then give them directly to patients.
Check out the video below of Partha Unnava explaining more about the company and Better Walk at the Southeastern Medical Device Association conference 2014.
via: MedCity News
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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