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M2D2 Finalists: Meet Rick Pierce, founder of Articulate Labs

The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) is in the midst of its 2014 New Venture Competition. After weeks of pitches, fifteen finalists have been announced. These finalists have business ventures that M2D2 has deemed “disruptive.” With these fifteen blogs posts, MedTech Boston gives readers a glimpse of the innovators that made it this far in the M2D2 New Venture Competition.

Rick Pierce, founder of Articulate Labs

Rick Pierce

Rick Pierce

Rick Pierce created one of the teams that will move on to the next round of judging in the M2D2 contest. His company, Articulate Labs, was chosen from the pool of applicants because of its true potential to disrupt medicine.

What is Articulate Labs all about? This innovator describes his company in a MedTech Boston Q&A:

1. Briefly describe your technology.

KneeStim uses neuromuscular electrical stimulation to facilitate contraction of quadriceps muscles in synchrony with user movement, turning each joint loading instance into a muscle building repetition. This is achieved through high-level, continuous patient monitoring that includes motion-tracking hardware, user input, and a real-time operating system. The device’s goal is to help with muscle strengthening, muscle re-education, increase in joint range of motion, and increase in local blood circulation in the course of knee rehabilitation.

2. How does it add value to a clinical environment?

As pressure increases to reduce expenses related to joint replacement and related rehabilitation, hospitals and clinics need new tools that can help cost-efficiently maximize outpatient rehabilitation. We believe KneeStim does just that by assisting the patient with strengthening during their normal activities, leaving precious time for physical therapists to focus on more complex exercises and interventions. We also see potential in improved quadriceps strengthening leading to improved patient outcomes, faster rehabilitation, and a reversal in the cycle of pain and disuse that would otherwise lead to further medical intervention.

3. How is it disruptive?

KneeStim was developed by an engineer who struggled to manage his own knee osteoarthritis, resulting from a motorcycle accident and lower-limb amputation, and was very dissatisfied with current conservative treatments.

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation has been proven to help rehabilitate atrophied, inhibited muscle, and its benefits increase greatly when stimulation is used in combination with exercise. However, its application has been restricted to relatively simple movements while stationary because it is close to impossible to pre-program a stimulation sequence to work with the irregularities of real-life movement. We believe our method of personalized, intelligent stimulation timing will help unlock neuromuscular electrical stimulation’s potential for rehabilitating other muscles and conservatively managing many other musculoskeletal conditions through everyday activity.

4. What is your target market?

We will enter KneeStim into the joint rehabilitation market because we believe this device addresses significant unmet needs for conservative, cost-effective knee osteoarthritis management and pre/post-surgical rehabilitation. There are over 11 million Americans with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, and this population is only growing as the population ages and grows heavier. Knee osteoarthritis is the primary indication behind 90% of knee replacements, of which there were over 700,000 performed in 2011 at an average cost of $30,000 per surgery. This is a market where many providers and many patients, including KneeStim’s inventor, find the current conservative treatment options to be insufficient due to lack of efficacy or potential side-effects.

5. What are your anticipated funding needs?

We anticipate requiring $2.2 million in funding to engage in pilot studies, earn FDA regulatory clearance, develop a small sales force with co-marketing partnerships, and reach initial sales.


Congratulations and good luck to Articulate Labs, and be sure to stay tuned to catch the other 14 finalists winners featured on MedTech Boston!

M2D2 will be hosting the 2014 New Venture Competition Showcase Event on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Novel medical device technologies will be presented, followed by a poster and networking session. The grand prize winner will be announced at the follow up winner’s ceremony on April 8th at the offices of Nutter McClennen & Fish in Boston from 4 pm to 8 pm.

Sony Salzman

Sony Salzman

    At MedTechBoston, we are sharing stories about cutting-edge medical innovation. As Managing Editor, I help coordinate our coverage of hackathons and company profiles. I also create content, update our social media and scout stories. I'm part of an ambitious group of people hoping to inspire a tech revolution in medical care.

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