Vol. 17 Issue 10
Success By Invention
Specht turns back injury into orthopedic products company.
Greg Specht knows back pain. As a sufferer of sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction since his early 20s, the 41-year-old physical therapist developed an SI belt more than 10 years ago. The belt eliminated his back pain and set him on a course for success in business.
Opportunity knocked in 1996 when Specht's on-again-off-again back pain intensified to the point where he couldn't stand up. As a clinician, Specht knew he'd been suffering from a sacroiliac joint problem and expected an SI belt would help. However, he quickly became frustrated when every SI belt he tried failed.
"I knew that I needed SI stabilization so I tried something different," says Specht. By tightening a rigid belt over a neoprene belt that he secured around his pelvis, the pain disappeared immediately. In that moment, Specht developed the basic design of his first product, the Active SI Belt®
The pain reduction he experienced while wearing this belt was so immediate that he was able to move furniture that weekend without pain. And he returned to work on Monday morning feeling 100-percent healthy. Despite his amazement at how effectively his new belt worked, it took several more episodes of pain, followed by instant relief with the invention, for Specht to realize he'd developed a product that should be marketed.
"It was so exciting to realize I had created something that could help a lot of people," says Specht. However, it took numerous design changes, prototypes and manufacturers to produce the final product. Along the way, Specht received encouragement from experts who treat back and SI pain, such as Richard Jackson, PT, OCS, Gregory S. Johnson, PT, FFCFMT, and Jerry Hesch, MHS, PT.
Specht's customers include rehabilitation product distributors, physical therapists and people who use the SI belt to reduce pain and get their lives back to normal. Specht is proud of the fact that he has been able to keep his product manufacturing operations in the United States, using the same local company with whom he started in 1997.
"It's worked out unbelievably well," he says. "The factory is only 10 minutes away so I can stop in anytime to check on quality, discuss design changes or work on new products."
As a practicing physical therapist and product developer, Specht is constantly looking for anything that can speed up the rehab process. "I am more impatient than my patients," he says. "And my best ideas come about when I'm trying to streamline a treatment process."
Specht's newest product falls squarely into the category of promoting rapid recovery from back injury by improving posture. The Posture Belt™evolved out of Specht's frustration with standard back braces and lumbar supports.
First, he wanted something that could provide adjustable, firm and comfortable support to the lumbosacral region. Then Specht realized that integrating this type of support into a belt that included a cold pack/hot pack insert could provide rapid pain relief.
In the final phase of development, Specht incorporated a component into the belt that he feels is revolutionary in back rehab.
According to Specht, the Posture Belt is the only product designed specifically for the attachment of a dowel to provide feedback and accelerate the learning of correct posture and spinal stability.
Physical therapists have been using dowels along the spines of patients for years to teach posture and body mechanics. Now patients can get the same feedback on correct posture at home or in the clinic without a therapist doing the work.
With the Posture Belt patent pending, Specht is understandably excited about the prospect of changing more lives for the better. He anticipates that his next product is just a patient-in-need or an injury away.
Dean McElwain, DPT, MS, OCS, LATC, is president of Peak Health Consultants Inc. in Rehoboth, Mass.