Easy-to-use foot exercise device to treat sporting injuries and foot complications

Easy-to-use foot exercise device to treat sports injuries and foot complications

A groundbreaking new device designed to build strength in the muscles of the feet, including the intrinsic muscles in the foot, is launched after an injection with specialized support from Heriot-Watt University.

Novobow inventor Gerry Farrell. Image Credit: Heriot-Watt University

Unveiled on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the Medical Device Manufacturing Center, located at Heriot-Watt University, the Novabow device is designed to prevent and treat sports injuries and a wide variety of foot complications and diseases.

Research in recent years has revealed the vital role of the intrinsic foot muscles, showing their role in running injuries, conditions related to diabetes including neuropathy (numb foot), and ulcers, in addition to more common but painful complaints such as bunions.

A practicing dentist from Glasgow is now ready to transform foot health with an easy-to-use foot exercise device that builds foot muscle strength. In collaboration with specialist designers and consultants from the Medical Device Manufacturing Center at Heriot-Watt University, Gerry Farrell will launch the device this summer.

In recent years, our understanding of the vital role intrinsic foot muscles play has grown exponentially. Modern footwear weakens the feet, so most of us lack the strength we need for proper balance and exercise. This can contribute to a range of toe deformities, pain and injury.

One of the main reasons people stop exercising or enjoy exercise is pain. Many of the available foot exercises target the wrong muscles or do not reach the intrinsic muscles adequately or easily. As an amateur athlete, I wanted to avoid sports injuries and the results of our pilot studies at Napier and Stirling Universities were extremely positive. We also put the device to long-term testing with Olympic hammer thrower Chris Bennett, who was due to undergo surgery before solving his knee and back problems using the Novabow device. He now uses it daily.

The MDMC’s support has been invaluable in developing the device for the market. As a dentist trying to launch a unique practice system with clear medical benefits, I have encountered many challenges. The MDMC team at Heriot-Watt University helped me with detailed CAD drawings and introduced me to just the right kind of specialty plastics manufacturer, something I wouldn’t have found without their help. The facility is invaluable to small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the complex medical device market.”

Gerry Farrell, Managing Director, Jomarg Innovation Ltd and inventor of the Novabow foot exercise device

Significantly, that living with diabetes are at particularly high risk for complicated foot conditions, including neuropathy leading to severe numbness in the feet. A diabetic with this condition is 20 times more likely to fall than someone without diabetes. This greatly increases the risk of injury, especially as a person ages. Foot and ankle exercise programs have significantly improved neuropathy and even reversed it.[1]

A second challenge for people with diabetes is ulceration, which in some cases can lead to infection and eventual amputation. Research shows that ulcer recurrence is drastically reduced with foot and ankle exercises from 72% to just 16% with this type of exercise.[2]

We see tremendous potential for the Novabow device to address and prevent a wide variety of health problems and to support both amateur and professional athletes in the practice of safety. As we mark the official launch of the MDMC at Heriot-Watt University, we hope many more companies like Novabow will gain access to our free support for specialty medical device manufacturing.

The MDMC was created to help SMEs like Jomarg Innovation find the right manufacturers for their product, make full use of our £2 million laboratory equipment with expert guidance and navigate the challenging path of medical device regulation. Our support is free for Scottish SMEs, demonstrating our institution’s commitment to accelerating innovation in life sciences in Scotland and beyond.”

Professor Marc Desmulliez, Manager, Medical Device Manufacturing Center (MDMC), Heriot-Watt University

Commenting on the opening of the Medical Device Manufacturing Center at Heriot-Watt University, Secretary of State Ivan McKee said:

“The Scottish Government welcomes today’s opening of the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre, which we have supported through our Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund to drive innovation from smaller companies.

“The center can help make Scottish healthcare more innovative in addressing pressing clinical needs, in line with business ambitions in our National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“The center supports smaller companies and start-ups in overcoming the challenges of prototyping and testing while meeting stringent NHS regulatory requirements. I look forward to seeing what innovations come next and how they help improve the quality of healthcare for potentially millions of people worldwide.”

The Novabow Foot Exercise System has patents for Europe and the US. It was supported by a range of contributors including the Medical Device Manufacturing Center at Heriot-Watt University, Scottish Enterprise, Napier and Stirling Universities, Interface and Business Gateway (Glasgow City Council).

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