Technology

Building a Better Crutch

After more than a century of the same old thing, the standard crutch has finally received a makeover—and Mobilegs, the result, combines comfort and innovation for an attractive, affordable result.

By Anissa Stocks

Three years ago John White won on a canoe trip at an auction. Days later, he had more than a tan to boast.

During the trip White met Jeff Weber, an industrial designer, who was exploring a modern twist on standard crutches after a 2005 foot injury left him unsatisfied with an out-of-date product for weeks. They launched Mobi, LLC soon after and the company's first product, Mobilegs, an ergonomic crutch, was released in July.

Coming off of market success with such products as PUR Water Filtration systems and Embody Chairs by Herman Miller, Minneapolis-based industrial design firm Studio Weber + Associates collaborated with Mobi, LLC to create a mobility product that caters to patients who relied on conventional crutches for generations.

Todd Nelson, director of retail sales and business development, says the product offers health benefits with modern conveniences.

"Traditional crutches fully extend the joints, sometimes causing discomfort," he says. "People who have walked on Mobilegs question why the product didn't come out years ago."

According to Nelson, similar market products such as Millennial Medical's In-Motion offer lower comfort and a higher price tag.

White, who serves as president and CEO of Mobi, LLC, says the product's sporty design and usability appeal to an aging demographic and those who experience sports-related injuries.

It features an angled design, universal rocker-feet and adjustable height and arm length, which provide increased support. Mobilegs also use 42 percent less aluminum than conventional crutches and are recyclable.

"And its looks don't hurt, either," says White. "It's not a typical medical device. It is a universal product that can be customized to any generation of users."

Creative director of Design Guys Steve Sikora helped brand the product, and Mobilegs offer customized skins for an additional $44. Additionally, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow consumers to personalize their experience with various applications.

"The relationship between brand and consumer wasn't there before we came along," says White. "Our approach is both humanistic and innovative."

The approach helped garner attention from investors, who have injected about $1.2 million into the company since its inception.

Mobi, LLC plans to release Mobiwalk and Mobistick, a walker and a cane, later this year. White calls it an "untapped market" that needed a 21st-century upgrade.

As White says, in an economic downturn consumers become more critical of products, and that's not a bad thing:

"People are asking more questions. They want to know about something that's original _ And just cool. We've gotten a lot of ‘cool' responses so far."

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