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August 12, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Articulate Labs developing a wearable to accelerate muscle strengthening and training

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The second annual edition of the “HealthTech Accelerator,” sponsored by Erlanger Health System and Unum and coordinated by CO.LAB, is underway in Chattanooga. We are spotlighting the companies participating in the program in a series of articles. Today’s feature focuses on Articulate Labs.)

“We are developing a wearable to accelerate muscle strengthening and training,” says Josh Rabinowitz, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Articulate Labs.

Launched in Austin but now located in Dallas, the company’s initial focus has been on a personal challenge faced by Co-Founder Herbie Kirn. He’s described on the company’s website as a “start-up veteran” with more than 50 patents issued worldwide and another 12 patents currently pending. Kirn also lost one leg as a result of a motorcycle accident.

“Herbie wore-out the cartilage in his other knee, but was told he was too young for a knee replacement,” Rabinowitz explained. So, like any seasoned entrepreneur, Kirn decided to explore an option to address his condition called knee osteoarthritis.

“As he was developing it, Herbie saw this was a problem that tens of millions of people faced,” Rabinowitz explained, citing the nation’s “older, heavier population.” In fact, there are 14 million people in the U.S. suffering from knee osteoarthritis and another one million recovering from some form of knee surgery.

The solution that Kirn developed – a light, form-fitting device – looks very similar to a knee brace, but is based on science. Called the KneeStimTM, it is a medical device that helps rehabilitate knees through what Articulate Labs describes as “intelligent application of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to quadriceps musculature during everyday movement.” It uses a combination of motion-tracking hardware, patient input, and an on-board operating system to tailor stimulation patterns to each user’s gait.

“Personalizing treatment in this way enables muscle stimulation to occur in concert with regular physical activity, providing strength and re-education gains beyond what passive NMES use or physical activity could do alone,” Articulate Labs explains on its website.

In addition, the KneeStimTM monitors joint kinematics and provides data back to patients and providers through a secure, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant portal. Measured changes in areas such as stride length, Q-angle, and walking speed may help highlight progress or indicate need for further assistance.

“We have working prototypes, proof of concept data, and provisional patents,” Rabinowitz said. With a target of being in the market in early 2021, Articulate Labs needs to complete some additional testing and file its application for 510(k) Class II clearance with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The company has been granted four U.S.-issued utility patents.

As far as a Dallas-based start-up participating in the “HealthTech Accelerator,” Rabinowitz it was the program’s deep ties to the two sponsors – Erlanger Health System and Unum. “We need the ability to prove the efficacy and impact of the device on time and money,” he explained.

Rabinowitz was also very complimentary of the CO.LAB team.

“Many programs help you prepare to pitch,” he said. “This one focuses on the fundamentals. They are making us prove the market is the way we say it is.”

More details about the company can be found in this one-pager (ArticulateLabs_Summary_Houston).

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