In March of 2013, a new technology was brought to my attention that involved a very unique and exciting but simple device, designed into the form of a chair that does something no one has ever really seen before in this form. I was asked to get involved and see if I could help to find a way to bring this very special product to market. Movewell Medical, LLC was established by Todd Ferrell, CEO who had taken on this product to bring it to market with it’s medical / clinical attributes in the health care and assisted living market space. These products are assistive chairs that incorporate a simple, but new application of a highly effective technology into a design that puts them into the Barrier Free Design category. The concept from a marketing standpoint revolves around fall prevention, aging in place, and providing a safer environment in the home or the facilities where seniors may reside. We don’t make the chairs, but we are responsible for bringing them to market and we’ve primarily been doing so by introducing them to Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Independent and Assisted Living. Movewell Medical as a brand had existed for several years, but sprang to life with this new product offering which fit within the company’s mission:
To provide individuals and the facilities in which they live access to clinically superior assistive and fall prevention products that contribute to a safer living environment, while providing high quality customer care and service, being thoughtful of the needs of the individual and their caregivers, being a trusted partner for the facilities and patients that use our products.
During our initial marketing campaign and product launch, the chairs proved to be effective as an extension of the therapy caseload in rehab facilities where physical, occupational and speech Therapists found that the simple technology greatly benefits their patients recovering in rehab from various illness, surgery, stroke and many other health conditions or movement challenges. We also discovered along the way, that these chairs have attributes that have proven highly effective for individuals with Parkinson’s (and other movement disorders). As a result of Parkinson’s patients who began purchasing the chairs at home, and continued missionary work to introduce the product around my own home state (Virginia), I was invited to bring the products to the attention of Susan Dietrich, the American Parkinson’s Disease Association coordinator in Virginia. She subsequently asked me to make presentations to all of the APDA support groups throughout the state of Virginia, which I am glad to be scheduling throughout the first half of this year.
It has been suggested (by several people who have heard my story recently) that I need to write my story… and tell it to people, and that is what prompted me to begin writing this blog.
The story doesn’t end with the Parkinson’s community, with rehab or with assisted living facilities, though they are an important part of it. What we have discovered and proven with trials of these chairs in individuals homes, and in assisted living dining and rehab facilities, is that the chairs provide a fantastic benefit to individuals with any kind of movement challenge, especially for those who otherwise end up spending a majority of their waking time (and eating all of their meals) in a wheelchair (which has a littany of effects on the individual’s spirit, posture, physical decline, issues with swallowing and digestion, etc…). We’ve discovered that in even some of the high end assisted living facilities that we work with, perhaps 50-70% (depending upon the meal) of their residents are eating meals in a wheelchair. The reason… it’s too difficult or unsafe to get the individual to transfer to one of the dining room chairs the facility currently has… OR, the staff doesn’t have the time or ability to make the transfer. These are individuals that often, if given some assistance (Not necessarily limited to that of a caregiver, but also via a simple technology / device) could transfer to a normal chair, and have the benefits of improved posture, mobility, digestion, etc…
In January 2014 I was invited to bring my products and make a presentation to a Stroke Support Group in Williamsburg, Virginia. At the conclusion of my presentation (on Fall Prevention and Removing Barriers) a gentleman who had been engaged with the entire discussion, who had obviously paid a lot of attention, and who had an interest… an individual who had suffered a severe stroke and who now spent most of his waking moments in his power wheelchair … this gentleman asked me a profound and poignant question that I will never forget which was: “What are you doing to bring this information to all of the individuals with disabilities that need it?”
My answer to him… wasn’t what I wish it was, but it was real. His question humbled me because, despite my missionary efforts for this new and effective (but yet Pioneer) product / technology, my resources are somewhat limited. My answer for him: “…One facility at a time, one caregiver at a time, one support group at a time… and … one individual like him at a time who can pass the information on to others he knows, and to clinicians that need to know that this simple system exists.”
His question and the sincerity with which he asked it, and my response to his question, is what helps me to get up every morning and find somewhere to bring my products to. To find someone to tell the story to, to continue what amounts to the missionary work of introducing a new product into the marketplace with no budget for promotion, marketing, advertising or otherwise, except for what I can put into my fuel tank to bring it out there. I also do some volunteer work for an adaptive sports program in RichmondVirginia which provides amazing sports programs for individuals with disabilities. That organization is called Sportable and I am glad to be part of their volunteer team. They too have seen our products and are supportive of what we offer, realizing it can benefit, not just the aging population, but really anyone with minor to moderate (and in some cases, more severe) disabilities.
I’ll conclude by saying… my mom is one of my best customers (of course right… she IS my mom). She’s an interesting case (all of our mom’s would be our most interesting cases I’m sure). She had open heart surgery in August of 2012. About 4 months later, she slipped (or ruptured … painfully) a disc in her back which resulted in her own disability. She lived alone in a 2nd story apartment and now no longer could access her dining room table. She couldn’t lift a bottle of milk, let along move herself in or out of the table in a chair, scooting and fighting to shift it along the floor to approach a table. When I was able to provide her with one of these Revolution Chairs in her home last summer (2013), it changed the way she was able to interact with her environment and made her dining room table accessible again. She does everything at her dining room table, she does her puzzles, she does her crafts… occasionally she’ll even eat there too. And this chair made it safe for her to do so. It worked for her (still does today).
I hope you’ve been able to take a moment to read through this message, and perhaps connect with some part of it. There is much more to the story in terms of the impact this system and technology has for people and for the facilities, managers, nurses, design teams etc… that have seen it.
I would love to answer any questions you might have.