San Antonio Startup Leto, Winner of $100K, Builds Cooler Prosthetics
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The current prototype was built for about $200, and Walters is working on aesthetic improvements “to make it prettier” and less industrial-looking, he says.
Leto Solutions will be working with Coastal Life Technologies, a certified medical-device manufacturer in San Antonio, which would also warehouse and ship the devices according to customer demand.
“We want to do a beta test with eight to 10 participants in September, and assuming those results are positive, we will be immediately going into full-scale manufacturing and commercialization,” Ariana says. “By early winter, we want to be making the product available.”
They plan to sell the device to prosthetics manufacturers for about $650 each.
It’s very early days for the company, of course, but there could be some demand for the device. Leto Solutions’ market study shows that, in the United States, there are approximately 800,000 lower-leg amputees—people who have had amputations through the tibia bone. Sockets of prosthetic devices must be replaced every two to three years, Walters says, with about 300,000 new sockets being made each year.
So far, Walters himself has served as chief guinea pig for the startup. He wore the device in his prosthetic leg every day for three weeks, turning it on and off to see how quickly it would cool in daily use. “When I’m about to go cut the grass, I’ll turn it on five minutes ahead of time,” he says.
He also tested it by running 10-minute increments on a treadmill at high speed. “When I took my leg off, my lower limb was dry as a bone,” he says. “The rest of me was soaking wet, but the limb stayed dry.”
Walters, who is 38, was injured in 2005, a year after the National Guardsman was deployed to Iraq. He then spent two and a half years in rehabilitation at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio, a hospital specifically built to treat soldiers wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“My personal experience as a patient is that the military is always looking for new and innovative products,” he says. “Amputees I know personally are constantly asking me when it will be available for purchase so they can get one themselves.”