Taking inspiration from the needs of athletes on the field, athletic trainer Mike Bean designed and patented a revolutionary over-the- shoe ankle brace that can be worn over gym shoes and work boots, and can help patients get back to their daily lives quicker. He talks to OPN about how he designed and patented his product and how it is beneficial to both patients and surgeons.
OPN: Tell us a little about your background and education in the
MB: I have been a Certified Athletic Trainer for almost 29 years and a Certified
Orthopedic Brace Technologist for about 5 years. Through my education,
workshops/conferences and hands on experience I have become quite adapt at
orthopedic splinting and bracing.
OPN: What are the most common injuries you see in athletes and how
would you treat them?
MB: Common injuries can be sport specific in nature, ie baseball sees more
shoulder and elbow injuries and soccer sees more lower leg injuries. Each injury
presents different challenges and protocols. However, other than fractures, most
orthopedics injury are treated with early, controlled motion and return to
functional mobility. Swelling reduction, pain control and strengthening are other
OPN: How did you come about revolutionizing the shoe brace for ankle
MB: I was never satisfied with the “in-the- shoe” custom ankle bracing. While it
was somewhat effective, the fact that wearing the in-shoe brace required
compromising the structure and support of the shoe or necessitated wearing a
larger size shoe. Neither of which was ideal for functional stability. Several years
ago, with the help of a local orthotist, I began using a prototype “over-the- shoe”
brace known as the TayCo External Ankle Brace . It allowed for a quick
application, while the patient could wear their normal shoe and orthotic without
compromise. This brace proved to be extremely comfortable and supportive for
football players playing at the highest levels of competition.
OPN: What results have you seen from people who have used your shoe
MB: Initially with athletes using the brace for sport competition, the results
were extremely positive. The TayCo Ankle Brace is now used by nearly 50
collegiate and professional athletic teams. The diversity of the brace has grown
exponentially. The TayCo is now being used not only as a functional brace for
high level activity but also as a form of acute care and rehabilitation. The TayCo
can be used by the patient in everyday living activity allowing for controlled and
comfortable function while recovering from an injury. The TayCo has expanded
even further into the normal population cliental. The brace is becoming
extremely popular with people in every walk of life. People who need a comfortable and supportive appliance to assist with acute injuries, chronic injuries or neurological conditions have reported tremendous success with the TayCo.
OPN: As a start-up entrepreneur, did you encounter any obstacles when
trying to make your product available in the emerging global health market?
MB: I was extremely lucky to have the assistance and support of the University of
Notre Dame. Through the University, a local professional was introduced to the
TayCo Ankle Brace and was eager to license it, manufacture and distribute the
brace. Their vision to expand the use of the brace and promote it has really
accelerated the availability of the TayCo. The usual obstacles of financially
manufacturing and marketing as well as getting the brace into the hands of the
influential professionals do exist. However with the TayCo team currently in
place those hurdles have been managed seamlessly and in as efficient a manner
OPN: How do you think the future looks in the field of medical engineering
in relation to orthotics?
MB: The current level of technology, both diagnostically and manufacturing will
only continue to improve. The ability to definitively assess functional deficiencies
and create appliances that can perfectly fit and accommodate individual’s needs
are improving daily. Hopefully the TayCo can serve as one of those conduits that
can enhance someone’s life style and quality of living.