For people recovering from minor injuries, crutches are a minor inconvenience. But for the permanently disabled, underarm crutches are painful, restrictive, and a major barrier. Mobility Designed reimagined crutches to solve this problem and empower the differently-abled.
Technology has created several wonders! We now have devices, online services and high tech machinery to make our lives comfortable. However, when it comes to empowering the differently-abled, we are still living in a Civil War era, if you will.
According to the 2010 US Census, 3.3 million people in the age range of 15 years and older use a wheelchair. Another 10 million use canes, crutches, or walkers. That is about one for every five Americans struggling to walk. But the axillary underarm crutches are the same technology we have since the 1800s.
Anyone who has ever used crutches can vouch for the real pain they are! They strain your arms, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. They even have a negative impact on your posture causing long-term health problems. It is unacceptable how something so central to people’s lives can garner so little attention.
It is high time conditions improve for the betterment of the differently-abled.
As Max Younger CIO and Co-Founder of Mobility Designed says, “The status quo is not good enough.”
To forge the much-required change, Mobility Designed created M+D crutches.
How it all began…
The idea for M+D crutches originated from a very emotional place – Max’s love for his father.
In August 2008, Max Younger’s father became an above the knee amputee and had to permanently resort to using walking aids. Excessive usage of crutches caused damage to his father’s nerves in the hands and the wrists. Watching his father constantly struggle with the crutches motivated Max to work towards changing the traditional, under-arm crutch technology.
Max had recently graduated with an Industrial Design degree when he bought a studio space and turned it into an idea incubator. Along with his wife and college sweetheart Liliana, Max started working towards redesigning the conventional crutch.
In order to build an efficient product, Max and Liliana studied how people move and rest their body weight. The duo also collaborated with Physical and Occupational Therapists throughout the product development process. They noticed that supporting the body weight on armpits caused pain in the hands and health complications in the long run.
Based on the ideas, Max started building prototype after prototype with materials from his garage and basement. After about 1200 to 1500 ideas over several years, Max came up with a design that uses elbows and forearms to support the body weight.
There was yet another hurdle to be conquered. Like many entrepreneurs, Max learned that designing a good product isn’t enough. Marketing the product is important too.
Lilliana took an entrepreneurship business program at the University of Missouri, Kansas City to help Max with marketing and running the startup. Thus, Mobility Designed LLC was born in 2015, with Liliana Younger as Co-founder and CEO.
Their first baby? M+D crutches!
What makes M+D crutches more efficient?
M+D crutches provide users with offset handles and adjustable pivots for better control and movement. They remove strain off the user’s wrists and hands and enable them to move freely. Even while doing everyday chores like preparing food in the kitchen, users can reach for things while still supporting their body weight.
M+D crutches can be adjusted to suit the needs of people who are 4’11” all the way to 6’8”.
As a designer, Younger believes “form follows function.” Therefore, the product was designed by giving each feature the utmost importance. All elements of M+D crutch are there for a reason, not just for style or aesthetics. Even the rubber feet on the bottom of the crutches were redesigned to provide better cushioning and more grip.
Watch Max and Liliana Younger explain how M+D crutches transform people’s lives:
What do people have to say about M+D’s crutches?
M+D crutches are very well received by people. Based on a user survey, 71 percent of the users reported that they “do not hurt at all” in their hands/wrists when using the product. As a result, the medical device startup had no trouble gaining momentum.
In April 2017, Mobility Designed raised a funding of nearly $900,000 from Innovation in Motion and other local investors. Later in June 2017, the startup announced that its total funding round has topped $1 million.
Currently, M+D crutches are sold in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Meanwhile, Liliana stepped down as the CEO to assume the role of a member of the Board of Directors.
The Kansas City medical device startup appointed Dan Alcazar, a serial entrepreneur as its CEO. Alcazar is a well-known name in the entrepreneur world with experience growing early-stage, mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies.
What’s next for Mobility Designed?
The startup holds three design patents, and has three pending utility patents, along with foreign filings in several countries. Mobility Designed is in the process of launching a national network of retailers to facilitate people who would like to try the crutches before buying them.
It is painful to watch our loved ones struggle with ordinary crutches. You can now put a smile on their faces with M+D crutches. Watch them walk, run, and carry out everyday chores effortlessly!