FORT COLLINS — Green Sun Medical, an Innosphere company that is making a new kind of scoliosis brace, won a $50,000 grant during a Food and Drug Administration-sponsored Pediatric Device Innovation Symposium.
The funds will go to a pilot study in the spring, where 30 patients will be monitored using Green Sun’s brace.
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The issue with scoliosis braces, CEO Jamie Haggard told BizWest, is that they haven’t changed in 40 years.
“The brace we use now was invented at the same time as the rotary phone,” he said.
Rather than a rigid brace, which is meant to slow down the curvature of scoliosis and hopefully keep a young patient from needing a $150,000 spinal fusion, the flexible Green Sun brace is designed not only to slow down curvature but correct it.
Haggard compared his brace to Invisalign braces. Rather than one rigid brace for the five or so years they might need it, Green Sun braces are modular and patients will get multiple devices as they grow. These braces are made of rings connected by soft fabric that apply continuous pressure on the spine, enough to slowly correct curvature over time rather than just suspend the spine from curving more. In addition to being able to correct, Haggard said the device is flexible enough that patients wearing it can move easily and bend over, something that can’t happen in a rigid brace.
“The world is moving to having less surgery, not more,” Haggard, a Western State Colorado University graduate, told BizWest. “Treatment now is to just give them a brace and hope they don’t get worse. They wear it for four or five years and if they are not worse than they started then it’s high fives, home run, you didn’t need surgery. It’s not about, ‘hey let’s make you better,’ it’s let it not get worse. That’s very sad and very disappointing. It’s much easier to use a modular system, where we can know exactly what forces we are putting on these kids.”
To be effective, a brace must be worn for about 20 hours a day for multiple years. The study Green Sun is undergoing will first determine its effectiveness in being a substitute to the rigid brace and then to see if it is effective in correcting spinal curvature. Future goals include seeing if the time a patient needs to wear the scoliosis brace can be reduced.
Green Sun braces are also Bluetooth enabled, so doctors can get real data on how the brace is being worn, when it is being worn and how effective it is.
Haggard said that being a graduate of the Innosphere accelerator and tenant of the Innosphere building has been a benefit to the Fort Collins startup.
“Innosphere gives you all those bases that you didn’t learn in your MBA program and gives a great foundation,” he said. “There’s a really cooperative environment at Innosphere. They have a great system there.”