Flexible support for knees

23 Jan 2013

Author: Nigel Bowen

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Geoff Maloney’s grandfather and father raced, sold and repaired motorbikes around Geelong but it was windsurfing that propelled him into the business of safeguarding the joints of motorcyclists.
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“I grew up riding mini bikes but when I got big enough to race the larger models my worried mother encouraged me to take up windsurfing. I liked it so much I started a business manufacturing and selling windsurfers after finishing my Commerce degree at Deakin. When I got back into bike riding I discovered the injury-preventing knee braces available to motorcyclists were expensive, uncomfortable and unreliable.”

Maloney wondered if he could design a knee brace with a hinge that utilised synthetic ligaments made of flexible urethane, similar to the mast base on his windsurfer, rather than the metal hinges traditionally used.

He successfully applied for an Austrade grant, spent a couple of years on R&D and proceeded to manufacture his brace in China and have it distributed worldwide by Fox Head Inc, a leading action sports equipment company based in the US.

Half a decade on, Maloney’s POD® knee brace, a dynamic hinge joint that provides secure natural motion, sells in 20 countries. He’s since adapted the technology to make ankle and wrist protection products and, having already expanded into other sporting markets, is currently investigating how his creations can also improve the lives of the aged and infirm.

“By 2018, the market for knee braces and supports in the US alone will be US$1.2 billion,” Maloney observes, before pointing out his motivations are not purely commercial. “My great uncle died in a motorcycle racing accident he could have walked away from with better safety equipment. That drives me to reduce the risk of people being injured.”