A new tech company based in Birmingham, Mich., is focusing on helping seniors avoid slips and falls.
Safe Balance co-founder and occupational therapist Nathan Clinton-Barnett said he expects to sign at least four contracts soon after the open house for his innovative software technology that assesses a person's balance and suggests ways to minimize the risk of falls.
"It is the first of its kind in the nation to provide balance testing to identify severe, moderate, small balance impairments," said Clinton-Barnett, who also is the company's executive vice president of clinical services. "It offsets the risk of fall before it happens. ... We will bring the portable device to the resident."
Clinton-Barnett said the Safe Balance portable device — called Dynamic Arc — is shaped like a "T" and folds up like a Swiss Army knife to fit in a small bag. The U.S. spends $34 billion for fall-related injuries and predictive methods are needed to give people protection, he said.
Potential clients include nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, independent living and assisted living communities in Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
"We have a direct sales (online) approach as well as developing affiliations with large home health companies in the Midwest," Clinton-Barnett said. "We will sell subscription to the senior community. Once we do that, we come in and assess residents based on the package they purchase. The cost is passed on to the residents. It is revenue generating" for the centers.
Clinton-Barnett projected sales this year of about $500,000, increasing to $3 million in 2017. The company employees four full-time workers, a contract sales force of six and four clinical contract staffers, he said.
Sheila Bullard, Safe Balance's vice president of business development, said there are many fall prevention programs, but most are reactive or warning systems.
For example, hospitals have installed alarm monitors underneath beds to alert staff if a nonmobile patient attempts to get out of the bed. Patient falls at hospitals are a major concern.
"There is not one single program to concentrate on the person," Bullard said.
Using the patented Dynamic Arc system, people are hooked up to the device and take an eight-minute test based on everyday functions.
"You (put on the device) reach for a mug in the cupboard or reach above in the shower. The test is performed by an occupational or physical therapist," Bullard said. "This generates a report based on age and balance" that can be analyzed.
Bullard said data generated leads to recommendations that can include strengthening particular muscles or advice to use a walker or cane for safety.
Though Clinton-Barnett's original company was founded as Functional Innovation Enterprises, Clinton-Barnett said the company morphed into Avantius Medical Equipment LLC under a joint venture with investor Frederic Jouhet. Avantius owns the patent to Dynamic Arc and has exclusively licensed the technology to Safe Balance.
Clinton-Barnett, along with three other Safe Balance founders, including Bullard, Jouhet and Diyan Hermiz, received assistance from the the Oakland University Incubator and advice from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
"Nathan has successfully navigated through several key milestones of entrepreneurship, particularly in the medical field," said Amy Butler, executive director of OU INC, in a statement. "He saw a need, developed a solution, brought it to commercialization and then was able to look at broader application and use. His determination and skillset, coupled with leveraging available resources, positioned him to attract new venture partners. He has been a great client to work with."
"Birmingham company to launch tech to assess falling risks" originally appeared in Crain's Detroit Business.