First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jim Jablonka: We have had our share of struggles and difficulties because of COVID. My youngest son is having a unique senior year at college, only visiting campus a handful of times, and also celebrated his 21st birthday at home because of the quarantine. It has also been tough not seeing my mother for several months because of her assisted living community’s lockdown. Thankfully, we are all well and weathering the storm.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Tendon Trak.
Jim Jablonka: I am a physical therapist who has treated more than 86,000 individual patients for orthopedic injuries during my 30-year career. I have opened and operated multiple startup clinics for both local and national companies while maintaining clinical expertise and mentoring fellow clinicians.
In 2004, I treated a patient who was suffering from tennis elbow and not getting relief from the usual course of treatment and braces. The only thing that helped this gentleman was a taping technique that supported his forearm; however, he could not apply the tape independently. On his last visit, the very first Tendon Trak™ was fabricated, made up from pieces of gel, sewn onto a strap using a suture kit. This device allowed for the appropriate support, improved function, and the patient was able to apply it himself. It was the “Ah-ha” moment that started my company, Innovative Bracing, LLC.
How does Tendon Trak innovate?
Jim Jablonka: Most of us have seen people wearing big and bulky braces on their forearm or knee. I was frustrated by these ineffective braces that place pressure on irritated tissue and are proven to be detrimental to the healing process.
I developed the Tendon Trak™, an innovative brace that provides instant relief for elbow, knee, and Achilles tendonitis pain. This device incorporates a patented method and is the only brace that “normalizes” pressure from irritated tissues, provides immediate comfort, decreases pain, and increases function. It’s easy to use, sleek and compact, significantly more comfortable than other braces and is latex-free.
How has the Coronavirus Pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Jim Jablonka: With the massive shut down, we shifted our sales model from selling directly to clinicians and medical distributors to selling direct to consumers online. Now, the Tendon Trak elbow, knee, and Achilles are sold online at https://tendontrak.com/ and Amazon.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jim Jablonka: We’ve been fortunate and have not had to make any difficult decisions. Our biggest lesson learned is that selling direct to people who are suffering from tendonitis is the way to go.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Jim Jablonka: I like to golf early in the morning, practicing chipping and putting. I also enjoy road biking, which burns off physical energy while clearing my head. My best ideas seem to come when I am exercising.
How do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Jim Jablonka: COVID-19 affects most people’s exercise habits in one of two ways – either making people more sedentary or more active. An increase in tendon overuse injures anticipated from those who have been sedentary starting to exercise again and from those who are overly active. When most people injure themselves, they initially do not consult a doctor; instead, they look for an over the counter solution. Innovative Bracing’s Tendon Trak is an effective and inexpensive solution to help people lead healthier, more active lives.
Who are your competitors, and how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jim Jablonka: We have many competitors, such as 3M / Futuro, Ace, AirCast, McDavid, Mueller, and BandIt. What will keep us in the game is our patented method along with the Tendon Trak. It’s a more effective brace, and it provides immediate comfort, decreased pain, and increased function. It’s easy to use, sleek and compact, significantly more comfortable than other braces and is latex-free.
Additionally, the Tendon Trak™ Achilles is the only device available in the market for Achilles tendon injuries. This market includes a rapidly growing number of children suffering from Sever’s disease, 25% of all runners, and up to 7% of the U.S. population.
Your final thoughts?
Jim Jablonka: As you return to your normal exercise activity level, make sure to start slowly, stretch, listen to your body, and be realistic regarding your abilities while striving toward your goals.