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Learning to walk again

For people living with paralysis, access to therapy is critical. Nashville-based medical device company Healing Innovations has developed the Rise&Walk, neurorehabilitation technology to help patients get back on their feet.

Imagine losing the ability to move. You’re completely reliant on medical professionals and family for round-the-clock care, and your rehabilitation depends upon expensive machines and teams of therapists.

Millions of people across the globe live this reality — including “Tim,” a friend of Nashville entrepreneur Luke Benda, cofounder of Healing Innovations. Tim suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury in a car accident and was paralyzed from the neck down. Several months after beginning rehabilitation, he reached his insurance company’s limit and was forced to discontinue the gait-training therapy he needed to recover.

Knowing the situation Tim and patients like him face, Benda and his father, a mechanical engineer, got to work on new technology called the Rise&Walk™, a machine they believe will improve gait-training methods and make it more affordable.

Prepping for commercialization with Impact Fund investment

Today Luke Benda’s company, Healing Innovations, is a graduate of Life Science Tennessee’s Mentor NetworkNashville Entrepreneur Center’s Project Healthcare Accelerator, and Chattanooga’s Co.Lab Healthcare Technology Accelerator.

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Healing Innovations’ Chief Product Officer Scott Benda, CEO Luke Benda, and COO Braden Davidson

Earlier this fall the company received an investment from the LaunchTN Impact Fund. “The investment enabled our team to complete product development for the Rise&Walk™,” said Benda. “We were also able to grow our team and prepare for the commercialization of this technology.”

“On a personal note,” Benda added, “the investment from LaunchTN was a huge vote of confidence from a trustworthy organization that believes in our team and our mission.”

Expanding access to affordable therapy

According to research from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, 5.4 million people live with paralysis in the United States — or one in 50. Stroke and various sudden spinal cord injuries together account for more than 60% of causes of paralysis. CDRF also found that 28% of US households with a paralyzed person earn less than $15,000 a year. The cost of caregivers for paraplegics reaches more than $306 billion annually.

“Gait-training is a common rehabilitation technique used to help people relearn how to walk, increase motor function after serious injuries, or provide rehabilitation after surgery when muscular atrophy has occurred,” Benda said. Medical research also points to added benefits, according to Benda, including improved bone density and cardiovascular, digestive, and psychological health.

“Gait-training administered at an affordable price can change lives,” said Benda. “Healing Innovations’ goal is to vastly increase access to this therapy.”