Cadence Biomedical Snags First $1M to Help Disabled People Walk

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is different in that it doesn’t use expensive motors or batteries, and relies solely on kinetic energy generated by the user. That means it can charge a lower price (something less than $10,000 for insurers), and it can be used in the home, as well as a supervised setting like a physical therapy office, Glaister says.

Since Cadence’s device is considered an orthotic, it doesn’t need to go through the long, expensive, and risky journey of seeking FDA approval to start selling its product. So with this financing, it is getting ready to go straight to the market with its product through a trade show appearance in late March, Glaister says.

“It’s a big deal for us,” Glaister says. “It’s hard to find early stage medical device funding in Seattle. It’s great now that we have connections in Silicon Valley, and we have $1 million into the company to help us with marketing.”

Partly because Cadence doesn’t need FDA clearance, it hasn’t generated a body of clinical evidence to prove its product works. What it has are anecdotes from individuals like Jang, who could only walk a couple of minutes on their own, and struggled with stairs, and suddenly were able to walk alone for 30 minutes, and go up and down stairs with the device. While anecdotes may not win over the evidence-based medicine believers, they did win over Cadence’s investors.

“It’s like nothing she’s seen in 20 years, and she’s tried them all,” HealthTech’s Ross said, referring to Jang. She was so impressed that she connected Glaister to contacts at UCSF who she thought might be able to help further develop the technology.

Orthotics specialists have tried to move their discipline towards evidence-based medicine, but haven’t fully succeeded, and often can be persuaded to recommend a product to their patients based on compelling case studies, Glaister says. Cadence has tested out its product with more than a couple dozen patients who are happy with it, but the company is now working on designing a trial of about 20 patients, to measure things like how fast people can walk 25 feet, how far they can walk in six minutes, and how much oxygen they consume while walking. Cadence hopes to get that trial underway in the second half of 2012, Glaister says.

The folks at HealthTech are already looking forward to the next iteration of the Cadence device, which they hope will include a pedometer that can wirelessly transmit data on how far a person has walked. That kind of thing could help encourage people to share their rehab progress with friends and family members, who could cheer on their walking progress on Facebook.

Glaister, 31, has gotten so wrapped up in the new company that he hasn’t gotten around to finishing his PhD dissertation in mechanical engineering at the University of Washington. He said he hopes to be able to finish that at some point, but the company still consumes the bulk of time. “I hope they don’t kick me out before I get a chance to finish” the PhD, Glaister says.

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