In sports and life, a recurring challenge has always lurked beneath the surface-- ankle injuries. These injuries have a way of dampening the spirit of the most dedicated athletes and patients.
The search for stability for their ankles has always been a journey for these individuals. The need to safeguard their ankles for support has driven athletes and patients to explore various solutions. Walking boots are a burden and remind these individuals of their limitations as if the injury itself was not enough. The boot adds insult to injury, making each step an uphill battle.
But right when the challenge seemed to continue, a symbol of hope appeared: TayCo Brace emerged. TayCo Brace empowers mobility with stability by raising the standard of care for medical providers who want to get their patients back to normal with speed, fewer life disruptions, and exceptional outcomes. TayCo Brace is designed to embrace the ankle, providing much-needed support while allowing patients to wear it over their cleats, athletic shoes, and work boots. The brace is for every kind of individual with an ankle injury.
TayCo Brace was created by Mike Bean, an athletic trainer from the University of Notre Dame, who, along with Dr. Fred Ferlic, a renowned orthopedic surgeon, and Gavin Ferlic, who currently serves as CEO, founded the company in 2016. They set out to deliver a comfortable, straightforward brace, allowing patients and athletes to wear footwear. Assisted by Surestep and Midwest Orthotics & Technology Center (now Transcend Orthotics and Prosthetics), the team successfully crafted the exclusive over-the-shoe ankle brace. This innovative brace employs a wrap-around, rigid footplate, side-specific uprights, and a series of adjustable straps to prevent ankle twists and lateral movements. The brace can limit or preserve the wearer’s full range of motion without compromising walking capabilities. In addition, the external design (outside the shoe) returns patients to their daily activities much sooner than alternative solutions like the walking boot.
Our goal for TayCo Brace was to design a brace that provided unparalleled comfort and stability and allowed patients and athletes to continue wearing their preferred footwear, said Bean. “With our support, we succeeded in developing an exclusive over-the-shoe ankle brace, utilizing cutting-edge features like the wrap-around footplate and adjustable straps. Our focus was on enabling movement while preventing injuries. I’m proud to say that Tayco Brace accomplishes just that.”
The initial concept behind the creation of TayCo Brace originated with Bean, who works as the athletic trainer for the Notre Dame football team. He recounts that players often suffered ankle sprains on game days, and the existing braces would compromise the shoe’s integrity. This prompted Bean to contemplate extensively, searching for more convenient and effective ways to protect and safeguard the ankle.
Once Bean developed the TayCo Brace prototype, he introduced the first brace into a football game. During that game, one of his players sustained an ankle sprain; after evaluation revealed no fracture, Bean decided to try the TayCo Brace to stabilize the injured ankle. Upon placement, the player experienced relief and could return to the game. Remarkably, during the same possession, the player executed a sustainable drive and scored without discomfort while his ankle remained stable. This marked a significant moment for Bean and TayCo Brace, as it became evident that they had indeed developed something unique and valuable.
While TayCo Brace was initially intended for athletes, a wide variety of individuals with ankle injuries have experienced significant advantages utilizing the brace. The company reports that the brace has advantages for patients who find it uncomfortable and unsafe to employ a walking boot due to changes in gait pattern and leg length discrepancy. Several patients have integrated the brace into their rehabilitation regimen post-surgery, enabling them to restore ankle function with stability.
TayCo Brace’s design has been patented in collaboration with the IDEA Center at the University of Notre Dame, which pivotally guided the company through this process. Alongside patent assistance, the IDEA Center has extended valuable resources to boost TayCo Brace’s accomplishments. These resources include facilitating connections with the company’s target market, embedding IDEA Center representatives on the TayCo Brace board, and furnishing invaluable mentorship.
“The unwavering support and leadership from both the IDEA Center and University have been instrumental in shaping our remarkable journey, said Gavin Ferlic, chief executive officer for TayCo Brace. “The theme for an early startup is to build a network and community that supports you, whether it's funding or mentorship, and the IDEA Center has been a major asset in commercializing TayCo.”
Since its inception, TayCo Brace has secured $1.8 million in investment for its operations and has diversified its product line to encompass four distinct brace models now available for purchase. The company’s braces have extended to numerous collegiate athletic programs, with a notable count of over 85 NCAA schools opting for TayCo’s athletic braces. In addition, 22 NFL teams have also adopted and integrated TayCo’s brace into their routines. These connections have been fostered through peer communication and the observation of positive outcomes by athletic trainers, underlining the efficacy of the brace. Finally, TayCo has worked with over 400 medical providers throughout its short history, serving everyday patients needing stability and comfort.
“We appreciate the opportunities aligned with TayCo Brace’s vision to redefine the experience of injury recovery for patients,” said Ferlic. “As we have expanded distribution, sales, and product lines, we remain committed to getting patients back to normal daily activities as soon as possible, ultimately making a meaningful impact on their well-being.”
For further details about the company, success stories, and available products for purchase, visit the TayCo Brace website by clicking here.