StrongArm Cane vs. 'Frankenstein'

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

EVANSTON, Ill. - When it comes to durable medical equipment, there's nothing more basic than the common cane (except maybe a tongue depressor). You can present it in different colors. Put on a fancy carved handle. Gussy it up with decals and printed patterns. But a cane is a cane.


Wrong, says Mike Adams, president and chief technical officer for StrongArm Mobility, which recently signed a distribution agreement for its StrongArm canes with Mabis DMI Healthcare.

"We've been waiting for some big supplier to say, 'We'll take a swing with you guys because this is a real game changer and category breaker,'" Adams said.

That would be Mabis, and its roughly 70 full-time sales reps, which has the distribution muscle a start-up like StrongArm Mobility lacks, Adams said.

New design

Instead of the old candy cane or hand-grip handle, StrongArm Cane uses a kind of curly-cue cushioned brace that supports the forearm on three sides, stabilizing the wrist and making the entire device feel "like a solid extension of the user's arm," according to the company's Web site.

That results in increased stability and confidence. That's key, said Adams.

"It takes all of the load on the flexible wrist and transfers it to the inflexible solid beam of the forearm," he said. "All that strain and stress transfers through the elbow, and now you've got your whole upper arm and shoulder in the game rather than just the little wrist."

Mabis will carry the Slim StrongArm Cane (for adults up to 250 pounds) and the Standard StrongArm Cane (for adults up to 300 pounds). A bariatric cane is in the works.

 "Everyone who needs and uses a cane needs more support, but they don't want to take the next step to that institutional, Frankenstein-looking forearm crutch," Adams said. "This is a forearm cane they can use proudly. It's like a fashion statement. They are not put off by it."