December 2016

Innovation helps company remain at forefront of industry with several new products

By Robyn Parets

Staying on the cutting edge of orthotic devices has been the top priority at Orthomerica since 1989, when the company opened its doors with its first custom orthoses.

Founder and CEO David C. Kerr launched Orlando-based Orthomerica Products Inc. with the goal of manufacturing prefabricated, semi-custom and custom orthotic and prosthetic devices.

“Orthomerica’s custom lower extremity division can help in any disease process that affects the stability, strength, alignment, or motion of the lower extremity,” said Kerr. “These include diabetic wound care, neuromuscular related diagnoses, Charcot deformities, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, degenerative joint disease, and contracture management.”

Flash forward to today: Orthomerica carries more than 2,400 orthotic and prosthetic devices for the lower extremity market. Using new technology, the innovative company continues to roll out new products, enhance its clinical education and offer unsurpassed customer service. Marketed directly to practitioners, therapists and wound care centers, Orthomerica’s offerings include its OWLS (Orthomerica Whole Limb Solutions) Program, Fuzion Family, and Spectrum AFO system.

Helping patients ‘adjust’ to CROW orthotics

Released in 2014, Orthomerica’s OWLS Program features the innovative new “shark-o” line of orthoses, which Orthomerica calls a “challenge to the gold standard” CROW (Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker). With the goal of developing the most effective orthoses on the market, Orthomerica unveiled its shark-o design CROW at the AAOP Annual Meeting in March 2016. First discovered in clinical testing of the OWLS mid-foot model in October 2015, the shark-o CROWs allows patients the ability to adjust the pressure on the calf to accommodate edema changes while leaving the foot at a set pressure volume.

Orthomerica calls the new “shark-o” line of orthoses, unveiled in March 2016, a “challenge to the gold standard.”

Patients, doctors and physical therapists can control the volume by overlapping the anterior plastic portion over the dorsum of the foot just like a traditional CROW format. The difference: The anterior portion is able to open and close as the patient experiences edema changes in the leg.

“This feature creates better hydrostatic lift to the calf and leg, reducing the plantar surface pressure at the Charcot site by 72% versus the conventional CROW Boot design,” said Kerr.

With this design feature, the orthotist does not need to constantly add and subtract padding. “The patient leg is held much better than the conventional CROW Boot, providing better plantar foot relief and reduced shear forces throughout the foot,” said Kerr.

In addition to the new shark-o CROW, the OWLS family includes a wide array of walkers for patients with amputations, as well as diabetic neuropathy leading to foot ulcers and lower extremity deformities.

Lisa D. Rubrich, MS, CO at Wisconsin-based Mercy Health System Orthotic and Prosthetic Center, said in a statement that her second OWLS patient healed from his wounds in two months and 20 days. The OWLS boots are “changing how we manage our wound care patients and truly saving limbs,” she said. “Wounds are healing faster than expected and patients are tolerating the AFOs well.”

No patient left behind

When it comes to finding the right orthoses, it’s not always easy. Orthomerica is hoping to change this with its Fuzion line, the first lower extremity devices that use compression therapy to assist with spasticity

All told, the Fuzion line offers a new treatment option for patients that haven’t been candidates for orthotic management in the past, according to Orthomerica. This is possible due to the product design, which features a proprietary soft foam, offering greater comfort and control due to its circumferential wrap design. Compared to standard thermoplastic AFOs, Fuzion devices allow for volume fluctuation simply by adjusting the Velcro straps.

Next up: Orthomerica is developing its own joint to help with contracture management for the Fuzion devices. “Once released, this joint will allow for both dynamic and static progressive function for contracture management of the ankle, knee and elbow,” said Kerr.

Full spectrum of AFOs

Do you have a patient with a particular need? If so, chances are strong that Orthomerica has the right orthotic device for them. In addition to its full line of innovative OWLS and Fuzion devices, Orthomerica also offers its Spectrum line of custom lace-up leather and synthetic ankle gauntlets, including products designed for patients with edema and those in need of a slim design. Included in the Spectrum line: a custom leather articulating ankle gauntlet and a mid-calf AFO with semi-rigid uprights and custom footplates.

The next step: Educate physical therapists

Each patient is unique and Orthomerica prides itself on its ability to custom fit every patient for his or her particular need. Whereas the company’s devices are gaining traction every day among practitioners, there is yet another potentially untapped market: physical therapy centers.

Over the next several months, Orthomerica will be creating more brand awareness for its lower extremity products by hosting clinical education programs for physical therapists. This includes partnering therapists with the company’s O&P customers, said Kerr.

“Physical therapists are influential in driving the prescription process for key lower extremity products and we believe these referral sources will continue to play an important role in the provision of O&P services in the future,” he said.

Robyn Parets is a freelance writer based in Boston.

Article sponsored by Orthomerica.

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