Inventing the world’s first sensory substitution diabetic shoe insole, 27-year-old Dr. Breanne Everett of Calgary catches the attention of medical professionals, high profile investors and Hollywood filmmakers alike
Calgary, AB - February 12, 2012 - Without a doubt, diabetes is one of the most devastating and not-so-quietly growing epidemics of modern society. Nearly four times more common than all types of cancer combined, it is fast becoming one of the major public health concerns of the 21st century, ranking as the fifth leading cause of death in the world, with an affected population that has toppled the 350 million mark globally.
Having seen the debilitating and often fatal side effects of the disease firsthand, Calgary surgical resident Dr. Breanne Everett has set out to change the face of diabetes-related complications; her groundbreaking research quickly turning heads in the international medical community and beyond.
One of the most common side effects of both Type I and Type II diabetes is the loss of sensory feedback in an affected person’s feet, rendering them unaware that pressure-inducing damage is being done. Also known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, the results can be catastrophic, progressing from numbness and tissue damage to ulceration and foot and leg amputation.
Equated to dental freezing that leaves one highly susceptible to inflicting unintentional injury on a frozen cheek or lip, half of all Type I and II diabetics will develop peripheral neuropathy, with half of those developing serious tissue breakdown, ulceration and infection.
In an effort to develop a product that would enable this growing global population to regain lost sensory feedback in their feet – some sort of ‘hint’ that they are doing potentially life-threatening damage, 27-year-old Breanne has put her Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery residency at the University of Calgary on hold to pioneer the world’s first diabetic sensory substitution shoe insole.
Diving headlong into research around sensory substitution systems, the Calgary native quickly realized the key was to tap into the human brain’s propensity for ‘plasticity,’ or, its phenomenal ability to rewire itself. The goal was to transfer the feeling of walking, stepping and jumping to register somewhere else on the body.
With the support of the U of C Department of Surgery and the global diabetic foot community, a board of directors that reads like a who’s-who of the North American medical technology realm and a handful of high profile investors, engineers, doctors and plastic surgeons, Breanne now serves as president and CEO of Orpyx Medical Technologies – the company behind two game-changing innovations: the SurroSense Rx and the SurroGait Rx.
Orpyx’s flagship product is the SurroSense Rx – a state-of-the-art, pressure-sensing shoe insole designed and engineered specifically with the diabetic in mind. The insole takes information from the patient’s movements and, with the help of ANT+ wireless technology, transmits it to an ergonomic wristband display, thereby informing the user when damage is being done to the feet so that behaviours can be altered and devastating complications avoided.
The company’s second and equally revolutionary product is the SurroGait Rx – a pressure-sensing insole that provides substitute sensation for numb feet and enables the user to miraculously regain feeling and awareness, thanks to the insole’s ability to wirelessly transmit pressure data to a stimulus pad worn on the lower back. The patient is left with the sensation that they are literally ‘walking’ on their back, and able to adjust their gait as necessary to avoid injury and increase balance and mobility.
Beyond diabetes, peripheral neuropathy or lost sensation in the feet can develop as a result of everything from stroke to drug side effects and vitamin deficiencies, making the potential for Orpyx’s innovative technologies endlessly applicable, while deinstitutionalizing an affected person’s rehabilitation work, affordably allowing them to take control of their own health and play an active role in their disease reversal and recovery.
As the products undergo ongoing clinical trials in both the U.S. and Canada, new investors come to the table and enthusiastic attention is cast on Orpyx’s work, the commercialization of the devices becomes closer than ever, with the SurroSense Rx slated to hit the market in Nov. 2012. The SurroGait Rx is expected to follow with worldwide retail availability towards the end of 2013.
As for Breanne’s accolades so far, which include her recent honouring with the A100’s prestigious ‘One to Watch’ Award, a cameo in the upcoming U.S. film The Diabetic You, a request to serve as one of TEDxYYC’s primary keynote presenters in 2012 and numerous invitations to attend medical and technology conferences worldwide, it’s clear there’s nowhere to go but up for this incredible Calgary start-up, boldly spearheaded by one of Canada’s brightest young minds.
"We believe that with our innovative research and groundbreaking technologies, Orpyx’s devices will change diabetic footcare from the reactionary practice it is today to a highly dynamic, preventative discipline. It’s time to stop being afraid, and time to start living."
– Dr. Breanne Everett, president and CEO, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.
VP Marketing, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.
M (403) 805-6446
O (403) 709-0129
Orpyx was created out of a profound desire to address the swiftly-growing global diabetes epidemic and its related complications, notably that of diabetic peripheral neuropathy – loss of feeling and sensory feedback in the feet experienced by an estimated 50-percent of the 350 million diabetics worldwide, that can lead to tissue damage, infection, ulceration and amputation.
Founded by 27-year-old Calgary surgical resident Dr. Breanne Everett, Orpyx is behind two highly innovative plantar sensory replacement systems, the SurroSense Rx and the SurroGait Rx, that use pressure sensor-embedded shoe insoles to determine force exerted over the bottom of the feet, and wirelessly transmit collected information to a back pad, mobile device or wristwatch worn by the user using the ANT+ wireless technology protocol. Employing the phenomenon of neuroplasticity – the potential of the human brain to rewire itself, the patient is able to interpret the sensory stimulus felt on the back as that from the feet, and positively adjust their gait, balance, mobility and overall health as a result.