Improving quality of life for people living with paralysis

Derek and ShaggySpinal Singularity is leading the charge when it comes to medical innovation. The company designs connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D), and they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for The Connected Catheter. This is the world’s first semi-permanent, fully internal, smart catheter system for neurogenic bladder.

Derek Herrera, CEO and co-founder of Spinal Singularity, understands the value of this device for millions of patients who need the assistance of a catheter to maintain renal function from a personal perspective. A former Marine, he is living with paralysis from a spinal cord injury after being shot in Afghanistan.

Find out more about Spinal Singularity and how you can support this initiative.

Medical device startup wins UCLA Knapp Venture Competition

Knapp Venture award

Team lead Derek Herrera holds the first prize check. Behind him (left to right) are Zach McKinney, Bud Knapp, Beth Johnson and Betsy Knapp.

UCLA’s student-run Knapp Venture Competition is designed to give UCLA Anderson School of Management students an intensive learning experience in the venture initiation process. Spinal Singularity won this year’s competition, and I’m very proud to know a member of this amazing team.

Derek Herrera (EMBA ’15) is my nephew, and along with team members Zach McKinney (Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering ’15), Beth Johnson (EMBA ’15), and Chandrashekar Hariharan (EMBA ’15), Spinal Singularity captured first place. The competition is named for Cleon T. (Bud) and Betsy Wood Knapp, who generously gave an endowment in 1997 to support this annual event along with other entrepreneurial initiatives. Spinal Singularity’s mission:

We design connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people dealing with spinal cord injury and disease (SCI/D). Spinal Singularity leverages unique combinations of existing technologies to create an exponential impact on the lives of the people we serve.”

The UCLA Anderson Blog has more details on the award and the team.

Congratulations!

Still in the fight

This week my nephew Capt. Derek Herrera retired from active duty with the Marines. He was awarded a Bronze Star for combat valor at his retirement ceremony at Camp Pendleton. He was accompanied by his wife Maura and service dog Shaggy. And he was walking even with a bullet lodged in his spine, thanks to the recently FDA-approved ReWalk robotic exoskeleton.

Derek was wounded in Afghanistan in 2012 by a sniper’s bullet in the Helmand River Valley of southwestern Afghanistan leading his special operations team, paralyzed from the chest down.

Today Derek is CEO of Ruckpack. RuckPack® is a concentrated liquid energy shot of essential vitamins and minerals, without caffeine. He is also completing his MBA from UCLA.

Derek’s story is captured thoughtfully in this article by Gretel Kovach, U-T San Diego military affairs writer.

Photo courtesy of U-T San Diego.

Pay it forward

CEO-Larry-Jasinski-ReWalk-Captain-Derek-Herrera-@2x

Walking doesn’t seem so difficult – until you can’t.

But today there’s hope. Incredible new technology is making a difference. See “Getting back on my feet,” my nephew’s life-changing story. Help spread the word about ReWalk so others can experience the chance to walk again, too.

For more information: American Technion Society

Giant steps forward: ReWalk obtains FDA approval; IPO debuts

Derek Herrera walks using his ReWalk ExoSkeleton. The $69,500 device has a top speed of 1.3 mph.

Marine Capt. Derek Herrera is walking.

That’s newsworthy because he was paralyzed from the chest down in June 2012 when he was shot in Afghanistan. Today he’s using ReWalk, invented in Israel by ReWalk Robotics. ReWalk consists of motorized leg braces, a backpack containing a computer and several lithium ion batteries, a wrist-mounted controller and crutches for balance.

“Being able to look at a person at eye level is awesome,” he said.

ReWalk recently obtained FDA approval and the company issued an IPO last month.

ReWalk’s exoskeleton offers hope, mobility for disabled

Derek and ReWalk
He’s back on his feet.

On patrol in Afghanistan in June 2012, Marine Corps Captain Derek Herrera was struck by a Taliban bullet, leaving him unable to use his legs. Today, thanks to a new robotic machine that uses computers and electric motors to power his paralyzed limbs – the ReWalk exoskeleton – my nephew Derek can walk, instead of being confined to a wheelchair. ReWalk was developed by Argo Medical Technologies, Inc.

ReWalk has been used in rehabilitation hospitals in the United States for several years. It’s been available publicly in Israel, the United Kingdom and several other European countries. And now it’s available for personal use in the United States, following recent approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Derek graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2006 with a degree in systems engineering. He is still on active duty with the Marines, and visited Argo’s lab in Israel to consult with the ReWalk engineering team. Today Derek is completing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of California in Los Angeles.

“I see hope for the future,” he said in a story in The Boston Globe. “Mentally and emotionally it’s been inspiring and incredible.”