Permobil acquires stand-up company

Thursday, July 31, 2008

LEBANON, Tenn.--Permobil is poised to take advantage of a growing market for standing wheelchairs with its June 2 acquisition of French company Lifestand.

Permobil, which currently offers standing/seating systems on its C400 and C500 power wheelchairs, will diversify its offerings by adding Lifestand’s line of six wheelchairs, which include manual, semi-electric and electric models.

Both companies tout the health benefits and increased independence offered by these chairs, which shift from a seated or prone position to a standing position by the user.

“I think more and more people are understanding the benefits of a standing program,” said Barry Steelman, Permobil’s marketing director. “It’s good for circulation. It keeps your bones healthy and strong.”

Obtaining funding for these products, however, remains difficult, Steelman said.

“I know that there are in the works attempts to get standing frames coded [by Medicare], but I’m not sure where we are in the process. So there’s still some work to do there.”

Permobil expects that the purchase will allow the two companies to focus on research and development of new standing chair technologies. Steelman, however, said that at this point there’s “still a lot of unanswered questions” about how the two companies will work together going forward.

In addition to expanding its standing chair offerings, the acquisition gives Permobil a greater international presence.

“Lifestand has a stronger brand presence in the European market, so it benefits us more in the European market than it currently does in the United States,” he said. “We’ll build [the Lifestand] brand in the U.S. through Permobil.”