ATLANTA – Several awards were given out earlier this month at Medtrade, and Medtrade Monday will be taking a closer look at all the winners. We start with the Providers’ Choice Gold Award, won by the StandUp Walker from Urise Products.
Medtrade Monday sat down with Gary Kabot, founder & CFO of the Charlotte, NC-based company. Note: Since this interview, Kabot accidentally broke his foot and is now using the StandUp Walker to get around.
Greg Thompson, editor of Medtrade Monday: Why do you think you received the first place award in the Providers’ Choice awards?
Gary Kabot, founder and CFO, URise Products, Charlotte, NC: First, the StandUp Walker is a very innovative product, and it is one of the biggest design changes to the standard walker since the 1960s, and I think a lot of people recognized how innovative it was. Second, the StandUp Walker is creating a whole new class of product that combines a stand-assist device with a mobility device. People who work in HME know the challenges that many people face with standing up safely, and it’s exciting to have a new product that can help many people stay mobile and independent.
Thompson: What was the inspiration behind this product?
Kabot: The initial design came out of MIT. Howard Liles invented an early version of the StandUp Walker for his senior design project after sitting and observing at an assistive living facility. He observed one woman, tired of waiting for someone to help her up, drop to the floor and crawl over to climb up a piece of furniture to get up.
After Howard went on to Georgia Tech, his grandmother fell and broke her hip and he observed her struggle to get up and move around. He went back to his original design and worked on it for another year after obtaining grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). As with many innovations, StandUp Walker was inspired by the need of a loved one.
Thompson: Why is retail/caretail so important in today’s HME world? If your product should not be under that banner, please straighten me out.
Kabot: Helping a customer with the selection of what they need to equip their home and fitting the devices properly is critical to ensure both safety and independence. Our #1 channel is HMEs because they are the experts — and with StandUp Walker being a new class of product, we think it needs someone with expertise to demonstrate and fit it properly.
Thompson: What type of customers (end users) will be using your products?
Kabot: The biggest group of customers are seniors with mobility issues that need help getting up to standing and want to stay independent. We have many customers that use it to transfer from bed to bath and back at night — and many who want to keep up their daily routine and visit family and friends. Another group are post-surgical (hip, back, knee, ankle) who need it for a period of time. We have several HME retail stores renting StandUp Walkers to those that need an assistive device for a few months. And finally, we’ve seen the StandUp Walker change the life of people with chronic conditions – most recently a young man with cerebral palsy who was able to stand up on his own for the first time with the StandUp Walker.
Thompson: What are your plans for Medtrade Spring?
Kabot: URise Products and StandUp Walker will be there. We look forward to seeing everyone in Las Vegas.