With an estimated 70,000 procedures performed each year in the United States, hip
arthroscopy proves to be one of the fastest
growing surgical procedures. The procedure is meant to give doctors a clear view
of the inside of the hip joint by inserting
an arthroscope into the hip and snapping
pictures with the small camera along the
way. The surgeon then uses these images
to guide miniature surgical instruments.
The mend after the procedure can take
anywhere from two to 12 weeks, during
which time the patient requires post-operative hip rehabilitation as well as a hip
brace to provide additional support, protection, and — in an ideal world — comfort. Enter Breg, a manufacturer of products that have helped advance orthopedic
patient care, and the company's latest
design, the T Scope Hip Brace.
Founded in 1989, the Carlsbad, CA-based
company's initial success came in the form
of motorized cold therapy. It has since
added a focus on non-operative sports
medicine products — essentially, the company provides bracing supports from head
to toe. The new T Scope Hip Brace is the
company's most recent design win.
According to Matt Hollister, product
development engineer at Breg, the T
Scope was born out of an advisory board
made up of hip doctors who were invited
into the Breg offices for a panel review
of the current state of the medical device
industry. After all, what better way to take
the pulse of the industry than to bring the
heartbeat in for a brainstorm session?
The advisory board concluded that the
time was right for a new brace that not
only met the true needs of the patient, but
the needs of the physicians as well.
"We were engaging with the doctors in
several different areas of their business
and practice," recalls Hollister. "The T
Scope grew organically through the con-
versations. I don't think that there was the
mindset of developing a brace at the very
beginning, it just evolved."
Breg consistently tries to identify doc-tors' (its customers') needs. What is missing from their practice? What do doctors
need for better patient care? "We seek out
industry experts and use our own internal
expertise to develop products that will
meet our their needs," adds R.J. Smith,
senior product manager.
Before the T Scope, similar hip brace
products existed in the marketplace, but
the decision to create a new design was
rooted in an age-old challenge associated with all medical braces: comfort. "In
a patient's mind, braces tend to be big,
bulky, heavy, and uncomfortable — particularly when you're talking about a hip
brace," Smith says. To support the hip
joint, the brace not only impacts the legs
and lower extremities, but also the torso.
"We needed to work around patient comfort, ease of use, how patients apply it,
and overall performance. Did [existing]
braces work as well as they could have?"
Material Selection is Comfort
In an effort to meet the high quality
standards that the team set for itself, they
turned to a number of different materials
and manufacturing processes to ensure
that the T Scope was comfortable, easy to
use, and functional. The company not only
reached out to its suppliers, but utilized
various connections in other industries to
see where the technology was moving. Breg
opened its doors to industry experts to help
develop the product and test the materials,
ensuring that they met the specifications
that the company laid out in the beginning
of the development process.
"We have a supply chain that our engineering team works with closely. We've
built up a list of the ‘good' suppliers that
we trust to bring these kinds of products,"
Hollister says. "We start with them and, if
we have needs that can't be met, we start
going to trade shows, or reach out to our
contacts in other industries to find suppliers
that can meet our needs."
Breg attempts to shake up hip brace design by engineering a
post-operative rehab product that patients actually wear.
by David Mantey, Executive Editor