December 2015

Townsend celebrates 20 years as a leading manufacturer of osteoarthritis braces

TownsendLogoBy LER Staff

Townsend Design released its first osteoarthritis (OA) knee brace, the custom OA Reliever, in 1995. Two decades and hundreds of thousands of patients later, Townsend now offers the industry’s most diverse range of OA bracing technology— enabling medical professionals to brace virtually any OA patient successfully.

To address each patient’s individual needs, Townsend’s Reliever Series includes nine OA brace designs featuring adjustable corrective force, proprietary hinge motion, and brace suspension technology. These include custom and off-the-shelf (OTS) braces and those with rigid or semirigid shells and dual or single hinges. The braces’ design and construction are tailored to different demographics, as the needs of younger, more active OA patients are not the same as less active seniors.

Because anatomical and lifestyle factors can affect patient compliance and results, Townsend doesn’t believe in a one-product-fits-all approach to OA bracing. For example, the company’s newest OA brace, the Active Reliever, targets the needs of older patients with features like quick-release buckles that make the brace easier to put on. A 10th brace, the Dynamic Reliever, is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2016. This semirigid single-hinge brace will feature three patent-pending features to optimize the device’s fit and function.

All of Townsend’s Reliever Series OA knee braces, as well as the company’s ligament and specialty braces, are made in the US by experienced technicians and orthotic craftsmen. Nearly 50% of the fabrication team members who work at the company’s manufacturing center in Bakersfield, CA, have at least 10 years tenure at Townsend.

Townsend is known as the manufacturer that can handle the most difficult patients. Company employees are used to receiving leg casts or scans for patients who weigh 400 pounds or more, for example, and patients who have extremely disproportional legs or abnormal leg angulation.

“We’re the company that can handle the most complex patients. Obesity, severe varus or valgus deformities—we excel at finding solutions for the most challenging physical anomalies and mobility issues,” said James Cobb, CPO, who directs Townsend’s Specialty Bracing Department. “We’ve developed the methods and processes to fabricate custom knee braces from casts, digital leg scans, and photos. We let the medical professional choose how they want to order their patient’s custom brace.”

Townsend also fabricates a variety of singlehinge and dual-hinge aircraft aluminum OA knee braces in standard sizes. But most customers who order these OTS OA braces from Townsend take advantage of an exclusive value-added service that isn’t offered by any other major manufacturers.

“Townsend is the only fabricator that routinely makes customized off-the-shelf aluminum knee braces that will fit disproportional legs,” said Joe Hernandez, director of OTS Bracing & Supports. “Instead of the thigh circumference measurement that other manufacturers use to make their standard size braces, we allow our customers to provide three leg measurements. Our team uses these three measurements to individually make each brace to intimately fit at the thigh, knee and calf—even if the leg size is not proportional.”

According to Hernandez, because Townsend’s competitors mass-produce their braces outside the US, it can be a difficult or time-consuming task for the fitter to bend and manipulate the brace to fit a disproportional leg.

“Not only do we make it easier to fit the brace more accurately in less time, the patient’s copayment is based on an OTS price, even though their brace was custom assembled to fit their exact leg measurements. When the Townsend brace fits like a glove right out of the box, it’s a win-win for the customer and their patient,” said Hernandez. “Because so many OA patients have disproportional legs, and because there is no added charge for the customized assembly, more than seventy percent of orders for Townsend’s Rebel Reliever OA knee brace are individually made from three leg measurements. It’s the best-fitting, best-functioning OTS brace on the market.”

Townsend celebrated 20 years of OA bracing by releasing the results of a study that documents the benefits of the Rebel Reliever, which has become the company’s flagship product. Investigators at Stony Brook University in NY conducted the study, which scientifically validated the substantial off-loading and mobilityenhancing benefits that patients experience when they wear the Rebel Reliever.

“The results [which include published and unpublished data] exceeded our expectations,” said Townsend CEO Rick Riley. “Participants had an average thirty-six percent reduction in compressive force [compared with baseline]. Patients walked farther with less pain, and their increased activity led to an improvement in muscle function in both legs. In every category, across-the-board, there were statistically significant improvements in the KOOS [knee injury and osteoarthritis outcomes] scores. The study validates why the Rebel Reliever is one of the most popular and effective OA braces in the world.”

Request copies of the study, epublished in June 2015 by Prosthetics & Orthotics International, from Townsend’s sales representatives.

“Hopefully this study will encourage more physicians to consider OA bracing as a conservative and less-expensive alternative or precursor to surgery,” said Riley. “We are building OA braces that work, that patients will wear on a daily basis, and that can significantly reduce pain and improve quality of life.”

Article sponsored by Townsend Design.

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