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Spring Loaded Technology is one of many made-in-Nova Scotia companies with an innovative health technology that could cut costs and improve healthcare for the province but has yet to be formally covered through Nova Scotia’s healthcare. Guided by the input of hundreds of physiotherapists, orthopedic surgeons, and orthotists, the company was able to launch Levitation – the world’s first compact and powerful bionic knee brace – last year to a global market.

The Levitation knee brace uses liquid spring technology to store energy when the knee is bent and release it when the knee is straightened. For the wearer, the brace reduces the pressure on the knee, enhances stability, and prevents further damage to the joint.

“We’ve seen our product help patients in a wide variety of ways, including reducing pain, restoring strength and mobility, retaining independence and dignity, and even delaying or avoiding the need for surgery,” said Chris Cowper-Smith, CEO of Spring Loaded Technology.

A global preference for non-invasive treatments has been driving Spring Loaded’s sales across North America. The company has seen its market broaden from helping athletes recover from injuries to helping people with mobility issues, especially those living with osteoarthritis.

According to the Arthritis Society of Canada, osteoarthritis is a degenerative health issue affecting nearly five million Canadians. One of the most difficult challenges for those living with osteoarthritis is to remain active, to slow the degenerative process.

Spring Loaded has met this challenge by adapting the Levitation knee brace specifically for patients living with osteoarthritis. So now, the brace not only reduces pain and pressure across the whole knee, it also provides better support and alignment so that people can get back to being active.

Additionally, the Levitation knee brace allows people to buy time before needing surgery and may even prevent it altogether, as Jane Grover, a grandmother with osteoarthritis, can attest. Grover explains in a Spring Loaded corporate video that when she found out she needed a knee replacement surgery; she opted for a Levitation knee brace instead. Today she continues to enjoy an active lifestyle that includes keeping up with her grandchildren.

“The last thing I wanted was more surgery. I was going to try out one of the braces that Spring Loaded Technology makes because we have experience with my granddaughter having it. (She) was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and they’ve just been a miracle for her. I went and I got one and I already feel 20 years younger, and I really, really feel hopeful that I don’t have to go through the surgery for a long time,” said Grover.

Meanwhile, the number of Nova Scotians needing orthopedic surgeries is on the rise. Last year the Canadian Institute for Health Information released its annual report on wait times showing that Nova Scotians needing hip or knee replacements have the longest average wait time for patients in Canada.

The wait time crisis has been ongoing for years. In 2016 alone, over $8 million was invested in orthopedic surgeries in the province in an attempt to shorten the wait list.

Offering the Levitation knee brace in Nova Scotia could potentially have a large economic and health impact for the province, reducing future orthopedic surgery wait times.

“Our braces are enabling people to be more physically active, productive, and lead healthier lives than they could otherwise. The province should seriously consider a range of more costeffective solutions for treating knee pain and mobility impairments,” said Cowper-Smith.

In June of this year Spring Loaded Technology was awarded Nova Scotia’s 2018 Exporter of the Year award. This came on the coattails of a funding boost they received from Atlantic Canada Opportunity’s Agency to support their plans to expand their manufacturing capacity to keep up with demand and use customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning software to expand their reach.

Headquartered in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Spring Loaded Technology employs 30 people full time and plan to hire more as production increases. Spring Loaded Technology is proof of the success that can come from investing in life science, whether it is to create jobs, strengthen the economy, or change lives.

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