A dentist has developed a device to treat foot injuries that experts believe could help sports people “exercise safely”.
Gerry Farrell, a practising dentist from Glasgow, has developed an easy-to-use exercise device called the Novabow, which works to build foot muscle strength.
Thanks to help from specialist designers and advisers from the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, which officially opens on Wednesday, he will launch the gadget this summer.
Mr Farrell, also an amateur athlete, said pilot studies of the device carried out at both Napier and Stirling universities, had been “extremely positive”.
Olympic hammer thrower Chris Bennett, who had been due to have surgery for knee and back issues, has resolved these after using the Novabow, which he now uses everyday.
MDMC manager, Professor Marc Desmulliez, said the Novabow had “enormous potential” to “address and prevent a wide range of health conditions as well as support both amateur and professional sportspeople to exercise safely”.
He stated: “As we mark the official launch of the MDMC at Heriot-Watt University, we hope many more companies like Novabow will access our free, specialist, medical device manufacturing support.
Mr Farrell, who has set up the company Jomarg Innovation Ltd, said the support he had received from MDMC in developing the device had been “invaluable”.
He stated: “As a dentist trying to launch a unique exercise system with clear medical benefits, I’ve encountered many challenges.
“The MDMC team at Heriot-Watt University helped me with detailed CAD drawings and provided an introduction to find exactly the right kind of specialist plastic manufacturer, something I wouldn’t have found without their help.
“The facility is invaluable for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) working in the complex, medical device market.”
Mr Farrell explained that “as an amateur athlete, I wanted to prevent sporting injuries”.
He said: “One of the main reasons people stop playing a sport or enjoying exercise is because of pain. Many of the foot exercises available focus on the wrong muscles or don’t adequately or easily reach the intrinsic muscles.”
Business minister Ivan McKee welcomed the opening of the MDMC, which the Scottish Government supported via its Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund to stimulate innovation from smaller businesses.
Mr McKee said: “The centre can help make Scotland’s healthcare more innovative in addressing urgent clinical needs, in line with ambitions for business in our National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
“The centre is supporting smaller companies and start-ups as they overcome the challenges of prototyping and testing while meeting stringent NHS regulatory requirements.
“I look forward to seeing what further innovations emerge and how these help improve healthcare quality for, potentially, millions worldwide.”