When he was a college student at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), Jesse Daily, now a partner at Thiensville-based Core Consulting LLC, suffered an injury to his foot. The injury left him on crutches for 18 weeks.
Accessory makes crutches safer and more comfortable
Throughout that experience, he learned about the extreme difficulties of limited mobility, and the shortfalls getting around on crutches.
“It was my first winter in Wisconsin when I injured my foot,” Daily said. “I was putting up to a mile and a half every day on my crutches to and from class, and to top it off I found myself falling a lot on icy pavement and snow-covered tiles, so my risk of re-injuring my foot was pretty high.”
An engineer, Daily tried to come up with a way to make crutches more comfortable and easier to use.
Now, Daily and his partner at Core Consulting, Matt Buerosse, have patented the technology behind what they call the “Comfy Crutch.”
The Comfy Crutch is an accessory that can be installed on the bottom of most standard sets of crutches. It has a wider base, additional snap on soles, a spring suspension and is centered around a traditional ball-in-socket design.
The combination of the wider base and the ball-in-socket design on the Comfy Crutch allows for the entire crutch base to be in contact with the ground at all times, Daily said.
“The base is more than twice as wide as a traditional crutch base, and a snap on sole with metal tips can be inserted for better traction in snowy and icy conditions,” he said.
“Because of the mobility of the rotating ball, the entire base of the crutch is on the ground during movement. This can significantly reduce the risk of re-injury caused by slipping or lack of surface grip in a traditional device.”
The wider base, and the level angle at which the comfy Crutch Base comes in contact with the ground, distributes the weight of the person evenly across the base which eliminates the need for multiple replacement tips, Daily said.
The base of the Comfy Crutch is fitted with a simple spring suspension system to absorb the shock usually sustained by the arms of the person on a traditional crutch.
Daily says that people who have tested prototypes of the Comfy Crutch say the suspension gives them the ability to travel a lot longer distances, while feeling less tired.
“We’ve had a number of different people test the device,” Daily said. “And the people we’ve had test it, like it so much they won’t give it back.”
Daily and Buerosse have had people with temporary injuries, as well as paraplegics and people with other disabilities test the device.
They are currently producing the product in the prototype platform, and are in the process of vetting manufacturers to produce the accessory in large quantities, Buerosse said.
“We are currently looking at a few local manufacturers as well as some national companies we’ve worked with on other projects,” he said.
“We’d like to have them made locally, but price point is definitely a concern we have to keep in mind,” Daily said.
Daily hopes to make the accessory package available to medical device companies to sell either as an accessory, or to fit traditional crutches with them ahead of time. There is also a possibility the accessory could be offered on a large scale basis to retailers. The snap on soles of the Comfy Crutch can also be manufactured in different colors to appeal to all ages and genders.
Daily and Buerosse are currently looking for a team to champion the sales efforts of the device.
“We just want to help people,” Daily said. “As engineers we realized there could be a better way to help those with disabilities or those with debilitating injuries remain more mobile, and decrease their risk of re-injury while doing so.”