The Alabama Innovation Fund helped speed the development of a revolutionary treadmill designed to allow people with neurological or physical disorders to exercise in a safe manner.
The device, called the ResistX, is the first product from the Alliance for Innovative Medical Technology (AIMTech), a partnership between two Birmingham research powerhouses – Southern Research and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
The unique force-induced treadmill uses a custom algorithm to apply resistance to safely increase the physical effort required for exercise. It also features a protective catching mechanism and a padded backstop to prevent injuries.
The ResistX is being unveiled at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in Boston, which began Tuesday and runs through Saturday. The alliance is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, with 50,000 members.
“ResistX is different from anything on the market, and represents a significant milestone for AIMTech and the physical therapy and rehab communities,” said Robert Hergenrother, director of AIMTech and Medical Technology Development at Southern Research.
Southern Research said the treadmill project was accelerated by a $164,800 grant from the Alabama Innovation Fund, a program administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce that aims to support promising research, spark new ventures and create jobs. Innovation awards totaling nearly $4.5 million were granted last year.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the Innovation Fund program serves to advance high-level goals of the state’s chief economic development agency.
“The Alabama Innovation Fund is a key component in our efforts to fuel the creation of ‘Made in Alabama’ products while also advancing our strategy of stimulating breakthrough research at universities and institutions across the state,” Secretary Canfield said.
“The treadmill developed by the AIMTech joint venture is precisely the kind of product that aligns with the mission of our Innovation Fund,” he added.
— Southern Research (@SoResearchNews) June 1, 2016
As ResistX began to take shape, the AIMTech partnership benefited from a link with Woodway, the maker of high-performance treadmills used by elite athletes and in physical therapy settings around the world. Woodway provided a treadmill that was instrumental in the development of a prototype.
Woodway also offered booth space to show off the ResistX at the ACSM conference this week.
“The AIMTech partnership has been incredible because Southern Research has the expertise and unique ability to develop and bring a product to the market quickly,” said UAB’s Dave Brown, a co-inventor of the treadmill. “But a lot of credit also goes to Woodway for graciously donating a treadmill and the Alabama Innovation Fund for providing funding to make this possible.”
UAB’s Christopher Hurt is the product’s other inventor.
After ResistX returns from its unveiling, it will return to Birmingham for use in a clinical setting. The treadmill will also become available for licensing.