Imagine not being able to control your movement or posture as a child or adult. Then try to comply with the specific treatment prescribed by your therapist until your next office visit. This is the challenge many children and adults, who suffer from neuromuscular, orthopedic and postural conditions, deal with on a daily basis.
Enter Beverly (Billi) Cusick, an internationally-known pediatric physical therapist specializing in the management of lower extremity deformities in children with neuromotor dysfunction. She invented a way to “send her hands home” with her patients so they could succeed with the rehabilitation they needed.
In 1997, Billi was introduced to and began experimenting with an elasticized, foam-lined, composite material that functions like a Velcro-sensitive skin. “I developed a solution to the problem of keeping therapy going between sessions,” recalled Billi, President and Co-Founder of TheraTogs, Inc. “I didn’t want to start a company but my colleagues urged me to develop a customizable product line for them.
Five years later, in 2002, while doing business as Progressive GaitWays, LLC, Billi and her husband, Lee Taylor, applied for a patent and launched TheraTogs™ Orthotic Undergarment and Strapping Systems. This new product generated so much interest and demand that they spun off TheraTogs, Inc., in 2006 to expand the designs and production of their rehabilitation systems that are worn by more than 40,000 children and adults around the world to date.
Lee Taylor became CEO and Co-Founder of TheraTogs Inc., and got initial funding as a rural startup from High Country Venture. When Lee and Billi needed additional financing to purchase a different type of foam fabric to improve their wearable product, they were referred to Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF). With the loan they received in 2015, they placed a major order with a new supplier in Taiwan.
“The CEF loan allowed us to turn the corner and set up with a new supplier,” remarked Lee. “It was absolutely essential to our success and growth, and couldn’t have come at a better time. Our survival was at stake.”
TheraTogs now ships its products to 46 countries. The US, South America, Europe and Australia are the company’s largest markets with exports accounting for half of all sales.
In late 2015, the company launched a new warm-and-form thoraco-lumbo-sacral orthosis (TLSO) – a spinal alignment device named the TherAlign Dragonfly TLSO System. The TLSO is integrated with a TheraTogs undergarment system, and has been code-verified by Medicare for reimbursement. Billi also develops training courses to certify clinicians as TheraTogs Fitters in the US and overseas, and recently created a postural control workshop that features the benefits of using the Dragonfly TLSO product.
In addition to qualifying for the Colorado Small Manufacturers AdvantEDGE program and other state-sponsored export programs, these gains have kept TheraTogs growing.
“We appreciate CEF walking the walk and supporting us,” said Lee. “Our unique product line has no precedent in the business community, but it works. Not everyone gets that, but CEF did.”