Fans of the Theracycle will want to read this just-published (2-15-12) article written by Boston Herald business reporter Brendan Lynch titled “Exercise Bike Reinvented– Parkinson’s sufferers will reap benefits” featuring an interview with Peter Blumenthal.
Read on below or see the article at the BostonHerald.com website at bit.ly/wPBTRa
Exercise bike reinvented
Parkinson’s sufferers will reap benefits
A Franklin company bought out of bankruptcy in 2002 has landed federal funding for its “forced exercise” technology — motorized exercise equipment — to help treat people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
“It sounds counter-intuitive,” Theracycle CEO Peter Blumenthal told the Herald. “Why would you ever use an exercise bike with motors? But you can overcome the motors as you regain strength.”
Theracycle won a $200,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant to modify its bike to replicate a therapeutic effect caused by tandem bicycle riding discovered by a Cleveland Clinic study.
In August, the company plans to apply for a Phase II SBIR grant, which could be as high as $2 million, to prove the bike would be effective in treating Parkinson’s.
People with Parkinson’s or other mobility-limiting conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy or spinal cord injuries, often don’t exercise at all because it’s so difficult, which exacerbates their condition.
“(Exercise) gives the same benefit a healthy individual gets, except it’s much more important,” Blumenthal said. “Since their bodies are so decimated, they get secondary conditions, like Type 2 Diabetes, poor circulation, stiffness.”
Blumenthal once owned the retail chain Frame King, but sold it in 1998 for “between $5 million and $10 million.” In 1999, he was struck by a car in Newton while riding a bike. He broke his neck, but was not paralyzed.
“When I started rehab I found it was impossible to use traditional exercise equipment,” he said. “I couldn’t do it.”
In 2002, a friend told him about The Exercycle Co. He bought the 60-year-old Rhode Island company out of bankruptcy for $150,000, moved it to Franklin, and changed its name to Theracycle to reflect its new status as a medical device.
The company, with about eight employees, is moving toward profitability, Blumenthal said, and sells the bikes to homes and hospitals for $3,000 to $5,500.
Blumenthal is confident in Theracycle’s market opportunity — there are 1.5 million people with Parkinson’s disease in the United States.
“If we could get 1 percent of that market, that’s 15,000 bicycles,” he said. “That becomes a $75 million business.”
Copyright: Boston Herald