Receiving a prestigious award in 2014 has inspired SureStep CEO Bernie Veldman, CO, to expand the company’s 2015 offerings in several key areas: education and innovative products to address “W” sitting and head drop.
At its 2014 annual conference the National Down Syndrome Congress honored Veldman with that year’s Exceptional Meritorious Service Award, given to individuals who have made significant contributions to persons with Down syndrome and their families.
“I am very humbled to receive this award,” said Veldman. “When I developed SureStep more than fourteen years ago, I only dreamt it would touch so many lives in such a positive way. Now, seeing how it has improved the quality of lives for so many children around the world is amazing. This success keeps me motivated to develop products that will keep making an impact on the lives of all special children everywhere.”
Veldman told LER that, since 2000, SureStep has affected hundreds of thousands of children in more than 30 countries. “It’s helped children take safe, confident, and stable ‘first steps,’” he said. “It has become the standard of care worldwide for children with low muscle tone.”
To that end, SureStep is continuing its longtime commitment to education for physical therapists, orthotists, and prosthetists with a new vehicle for learning. The South Bend, IN-based custom orthotic device manufacturer is launching SureStep Academy (surestepacademy.com), a platform of free online and in-person learning options.
SureStep continues to offer more than 70 in-person educational courses nationwide and internationally focusing on SureStep’s products and the importance of early intervention in hypotonia.
“Education plays a very important role with SureStep,” said Veldman. “We understand that to effectively use our product, certified orthotists and physical therapists need to understand and believe in its benefits. Creating SureStep Academy allows people to capture that knowledge even when they’re unable to attend our live courses.”
Currently, certified orthotic and prosthetic professionals can access a free 30-minute online certification course, which is required for new customers and allows them to purchase SureStep products. The self-guided presentation tests users on basic SureStep concepts, such as controlling foot and ankle pronation in children with low tone.
SureStep will offer one course as a live, three-hour webinar starting in mid-January. The educational content, delivered by a SureStep representative, will be the same as the in-person content.
The option to access this information remotely is a great benefit to those who can’t attend in-person training, said Veldman.
The webinar course will offer continuing education units (CEUs) for certified orthotists, prosthetists, and physical therapists; CEUs may vary by state but, typically, each course will be worth 3 units. Certified orthotists earn .5 CEUs for the 30-minute online course.
With its unique Criss Crossers, SureStep is addressing another key issue in hypotonia—W sitting.
Children with low muscle tone have a tendency to W sit, which occurs when their bottom is on the floor with knees bent and feet outside the hips, which provides a feeling of stability and tightness.
“It’s a feeling they’re not familiar with, and they love it,” said Veldman. “It feels like a stable position. But it’s terrible for their knees. It’s terrible for their hips.”
To counter this tendency, Veldman developed Criss Crossers, a simple and effective method of discouraging W sitting without putting any other positional limitations on children. The Spandex pants are made with a special conductive material that creates the connection. The battery and switch mechanism on the inside of each knee creates a unique audio cue—a high-pitched, irritating beep—when the insides of a child’s knees touch the ground. This reminds children to change their position.
“Criss Crossers are going to be revolutionary,” said Veldman. “It reminds kids
that W sitting is not the way to sit. And, if it doesn’t remind them, it’ll remind mom two rooms over.”
The pants are available in four standard sizes. The innovative design can be worn under most regular clothing, and will fit most infants and small children. They’re available for sale directly to orthotists, physical therapists, and families for $199. The small, sealed battery (similar to a watch battery) and tone generator unplug easily to allow normal cleaning and care.
Rounding out Surestep’s expansion is the introduction of its dynamic cervical orthosis (DCO). The company released the DCO in September at the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association’s National Assembly in Las Vegas. The device is designed for patients with mild to moderate head ptosis (head drop). Its dynamic resistance bands help strengthen neck musculature and assist with recentering a neutral, midline position.
“The DCO has the potential to change the quality of people’s lives quickly and easily,” said Veldman. “Throughout my twenty years as a clinician, I have seen so many children and adult clients who have limited abilities due to head drop. This product allows a person to be in a neutral, midline position, while still allowing normal movement. Anything from line of sight to chewing, swallowing, and general communication is improved immensely.”
The DCO is tailored to fit pediatric and adult clients, is low profile, and can be worn under normal clothing. It is easily contoured to fit any body shape and adjusts for different heights and head shapes.
The DCO, available for $450, is sold to orthotists, physical therapists, and patients.
Article sponsored by SureStep.