Mobility Assist, the patented invention of Stony Brook University Associate Professor Anurag Purwar, will be manufactured by Biodex Medical Systems and available to patients in 2014. The device helps people who have trouble standing up or sitting down become more independently mobile and also serves as a walker. It will be marketed to physical and occupational therapists as well as assisted living facilities, hospitals and nursing homes to increase mobility among patients and residents.
Purwar is a researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The idea for the device began with a challenge presented to him by a friend, Dr. Hari B. Pillai, who didn’t have the strength to lift himself out of a chair to utilize his walker.
“Having a New York company bring to market a life-changing product designed by a member of our SUNY system is the perfect example of what we are seeking to replicate and expand all across the state under our innovation agenda,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “Professor Purwar is emblematic of the intellectual capital at SUNY where we have talented students, faculty and researchers developing cutting edge ideas in the classroom and laboratory every day.”
“Dr. Purwar’s Mobility Assist is the newest life-changing invention to be imagined on a SUNY campus, given the room to grow through support from one of our Research Foundation (RF) programs and ultimately brought to market by one of SUNY’s public-private partnerships,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “This agreement truly embodies the power of SUNY. Congratulations to Dr. Purwar and many thanks to those at SBU, the RF, and Biodex who have made this achievement possible.”
“This successful transition of technology from the lab to the marketplace is the product of dedicated research, industry-university collaboration and creative funding programs that foster faculty research and support innovation,” said Dr. Tim Killeen, RF president and SUNY vice chancellor for research. “Investments in cutting-edge SUNY technologies continue to generate business and jobs for New York and benefit its citizenry.”
“Anurag’s idea led to the Mobility Assist, a solution engineered in his lab and in collaboration with the Long Island State Veterans Home on the Stony Brook campus,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “With the help of the Stony Brook Research Office and the SUNY Research Foundation, this important product was quickly brought to market. I am encouraged that it was fast tracked through the licensing process because it is an invention that will serve a large population of people whose ability to get around will be greatly enhanced.”
Purwar acknowledged the help and support of his friend, whose problem his lab initially set out to solve. “It is due to Dr. Pillai’s patience and input that we were able to go through this exercise,” he said. “I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of my former graduate student Thomas Galeotafiore, also my co-inventor on one of the two patents related to this device, who diligently prototyped an earlier device. I feel incredibly lucky to have worked on designing a device that could potentially transform the lives of people unable to raise themselves from a seated position.”
Two RF programs contributed to the creation of Mobility Assist. In 2012 Purwar received a $50,000 award from the SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund to prototype the device, and secured a $30,000 match in support from the New York State Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence program, with the Center for Biotechnology and Biodex.
Using those funds Purwar and his team at Stony Brook worked with Biodex to conduct a mechanical functional design review and collect customer feedback by testing the original design at three healthcare facilities. Physical therapists, occupational therapists and patients shared their ideas throughout the process to identify ways that Mobility Assist could be more comfortable and useful for its users.
“Customers who will use Mobility Assist represent a growing market, and Biodex already sells other devices for people with limited mobility,” said Ed Behan, the company’s vice president of market development. “This is a nice progression for some of the products that we already have in that area.”
Mobility Assist will be manufactured on Long Island at the Biodex plant in Shirley. Biodex manufactures and distributes medical devices and related replacement parts for physical medicine, nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, and medical imaging applications. It also provides concussion management as well as fall risk screening and conditioning programs.