I have been reporting medical technology news for close to six years and one thing that has consistently amazed me during that time has been the fact that simplicity often beats bells and whistles.
The most recent example of this is the newly launched Kickstart Kinetic Orthosis from Cadence Biomedical (Seattle), a wearable device designed to help people with weakened muscles or disabilities regain mobility and independence. Amazingly, this new device was inspired by the anatomy of horses.
It turns out a researcher from the Cleveland Clinic who studied horse anatomy came up with the idea of adding a “really long spring” to help people with limited mobility walk better. Cadence licensed the technology from the Clinic and developed it from there. CEO Brian Glaster explained that horses have “really short muscles, but really long tendons.” Tendons have elastic properties that allow them to act as a natural spring in the body. Those long tendons are what make horses such efficient walkers and runners.
Kickstart is an incredibly simple device that is worn over clothing and doesn’t involve any batteries, motors, or noise. I can’t wait to see what the company comes up with for above-knee amputees.