An interview with Chris Cowper-Smith, CEO, Spring Loaded Technology, conducted by April Cashin-Garbutt, MA (Cantab)
What was the vision behind the Levitation knee brace?
We wanted to create a product that could enable breakthroughs in human mobility. We imagine a world where mobility is never an impairment: a world where limitations to natural movement caused by injury, disorder or disability are restored and where boundaries to human performance can be broken.
For over 80-years attempts have been made to build an assistive brace that is powerful, without sacrificing usability. Unfortunately, traditional spring technologies were either too big and bulky or alternatively, simply not powerful enough to provide the bionic boost we were after.
Through years of research, testing, and innovative engineering, our team was able to reinvent the spring in a way that would revolutionize the capabilities of the traditional knee brace. So while we may not be able to tackle all mobility impairments just yet, we think helping people with diagnosis such as osteoarthritis, various knee injuries, or muscular dystrophy is a pretty incredible start.
How does the liquid spring technology work?
Our patented liquid spring technology is what sets Levitation™ apart from all other braces. Integrated with our bionic hinge, the spring can be used to deliver adjustable extension assistance to meet the unique needs of each user.
Inspired by the landing gear of high performance aircraft, LevitationTM stores energy in a miniaturized liquid spring when the knee is bent by compressing fluid in an ultra-strong cylinder, and then returns that energy as the knee is straightened. The result is a brace that not only stabilizes the joint, but also enhances strength and endurance while helping reduce impact in the most commonly injured joint in the body.
What makes the bionic knee brace a ‘game changer’?
We are the only mechanical knee brace that can directly enhance mobility in addition to joint stability. We are also the only brace designed to provide total joint unloading by simultaneously reducing compressive forces between the tibia, femur, and patella (shin, thigh, and knee cap).
For many patients, this is the difference between standing up or remaining stuck on the couch. For others, this allows them to stay more active while reducing or eliminating pain during movement. In short, for many patients, Levitation is the only knee brace that can restore their normal quality of life.
Take Bill Horne for example. He has been trying different braces to battle his knee pain for years, and has finally found his confidence and a new lease on life because of our product.
What feedback have you received from early adopters of Levitation?
We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of moving stories and testimonials we’ve received since bringing Levitation to the world. From locals who come in with a cane and leaving without it, to tears being shed on the stairs in our office because someone was able to descend a set of stairs pain-free for the first time in years, it’s been a truly moving experience. We’ve shared a few of our customer stories on our YouTube channel for others to see.
How do you plan to develop the bionic knee brace further?
Our intensive research and development efforts are what propelled us to the cutting edge of the assistive bracing industry, and we don’t intend to stop innovating any time soon. Without divulging competitive intelligence, I can say that we’ve listened to what the industry has been asking for and our engineers are making strides towards bringing additional products to market that will prove invaluable for individuals recovering from ligament injuries, knee replacement surgeries, and more.
Where is Levitation currently available?
Our team of Bracing Specialists work out of our Halifax, Nova Scotia headquarters connecting with people across North America every day over the phone and web. The team talks through each prospective client’s needs to determine if they might be a candidate for our brace. Once a Bracing Specialist has determined if the individual is a good fit for our product, a brace is shipped to that person’s home and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee begins.
Aside from direct orders, Levitation is available through select clinics across Canada as we pilot our various partnership strategies. We anticipate retail level availability expanding throughout Canada over the course of the year and into the Unites States in 2018. In the meantime, orders can be placed by reaching out to us directly.
How do you plan to partner with clinics, distributors and brace retailers?
As of our launch in June we opened the doors to commercial partnerships with clinics, distributors, and brace retailers across Canada. We’ve seen tremendous interest from these groups in carrying Levitation™.
Over the next several months we plan to further engage in these partnerships on a national scale. From there we will strategically expand our commercial partnerships across the US and eventually, worldwide.
What do you think the future holds for knee bracing technology?
We believe knee braces can provide more than just stability. Levitation, which can also enhance mobility, is the first step.
In the future we see additional benefits from knee bracing to help provide additional conjunctive and non-invasive treatments to further reduce pain and restore mobility for an even wider population.
Where can readers find more information?
Visit https://springloadedtechnology.com/product/levitation-knee-brace/ to check out our case studies and to learn more about what Levitation can do.
About Chris Cowper-Smith
At the forefront of commercializing Spring Loaded’s bionic knee bracing technology, Chris thrives at the interface of research and development to foster the creation of new products that have the potential to improve your quality of life.
A published and award-winning scientist and CEO, Chris is recognized for his strong track record in bridging the gap between science and business while working closely with industry professionals, clinicians, researchers, patients, and customers.
At Spring Loaded, Chris leads corporate financing, strategy, business development, and human performance testing.