News

Exos stabilizes athletes’ thumbs and the hopes of Cincinnati football fans

Exos, a joint venture with Enova Medical Technologies in St. Paul and Product Innovations in Aspen, Colorado, has developed polymer materials that when layered with foam create a lightweight, moldable material that allows doctors to custom fit each cast and splint to the patient.

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minnesota — Cincinnati football fans owe a great deal of gratitude to Fariborz Boor Boor, co-founder and CEO of Exos Medical Corp.

The Cincinnati Bengals are poised to win the AFC North Division Title, thanks in large part to quarterback Carson Palmer. On New Year’s Day, the fourth-ranked University of Cincinnati Bearcats will play Florida in the Sugar Bowl, led by Tony Pike, another standout quarterback.

Palmer and Pike injured their thumbs earlier in the year but are still playing. They both wear high-tech splints made by Exos, a start-up located on the outskirts of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Getting elite athletes to wear Exos products wasn’t exactly the marketing plan Boor Boor drew up, but he’s not complaining.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know who these people were,” Boor Boor said.

The same can’t be said of his company. Lindsey Vonn, a top alpine skier, also wears an Exos splint. The company was recently named a New Technology Showcase Winner by LifeScience Alley, an industry trade organization in Minnesota. Investors and orthopedics say they are impressed with Exos’ splints and casts, which are waterproof, adjustable and X-ray friendly.

“I am not familiar with Exos but the product seems interesting and a viable alternative to traditional casting,” said Peter Birkeland, vice president of Rainsource Capital, an angel investor group based in St. Paul.

Stabilizing broken arms and torn muscles has been relatively straightforward. Beyond casts made of plaster and fiberglass, there has been little innovation in this field, experts say.

Yet traditional casts have been far from perfect. Casts tend to be uncomfortable and inflexible, which reduces patient compliance, Boor Boor said. Doctors must also cut off the cast before performing an X-ray, only to reapply the cast if the patient has not fully healed.

Exos, a joint venture with Enova Medical Technologies in St. Paul and Product Innovations in Aspen, Colorado, has developed polymer materials that when layered with foam create a lightweight, moldable material that allows doctors to custom fit each cast and splint to the patient.

Even more important, the system features what Boor Boor calls “dynamic compression,” a way for doctors to adjust pressure the cast or brace applies to the injured area. If a patient’s arm starts to swell too much, doctors can lower the tension.

“Our product can breathe,” Boor Boor said. “Discomfort is minimized.”

On the flip side, a cast that does not apply enough pressure, such as when the swelling subsides, to the injury can lead to atrophy, the complete or partial wasting away of the bone or muscle.

Exos’ technology seems “very useful” because it can adjust the cast to the injured area and provide enough stabilization and support to allow the bone or muscle to heal properly, said Dr. Joseph Ciotola, an orthopedic surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, though he wonders how the skin will react to the polymers.

Doctors can also X-ray through the materials, allowing them to monitor the injury without taking a saw to the cast.

Exos, which started to generate sales six months ago, is distributing its products to doctors and surgeons in about 20 states. Boor Boor said he hopes to develop casts and splints for the body’s lower extremities like knees and feet, and possibly sell products to the military and veterinaries.

He declined to disclose prices but says the products are comparable to traditional casts. Medicare and private payers also cover the technology.

“It’s the perfect device for active people, but just about anybody has an injury,” Boor Boor said. “Sometimes it takes an obvious idea to make an innovation stick.”