Calogon’s smart cushion for wheelchairs prevents pressure and raises $3.3 million • TechCrunch


Anyone who uses a wheelchair on a regular basis is at increased risk of circulatory injury. Kalogon believes it can reduce this common but life-threatening condition with a smart pillow that prevents any part of the body from being compressed for long periods of time — and it’s already caught the eye of the VA.

Pressure injuries occur when a part of the body doesn’t get enough blood and tissue begins to die. Most people experience the onset of it, like something is pressing around a finger and cutting off blood flow, but it’s not always external, painful, or obvious.

“Anyone who sits down for long periods of time is at risk for stress injuries, especially if they’re depressed,” says Calogon founder and CEO Tim Baltz.

Certainly the transition to remote work has everyone wondering if sitting for long periods of time is hurting their body in some way or another. But this goes well behind the sick; People who can’t stand and stretch, or feel pressure or pain that could indicate a real problem, are at greater risk of injury. Pressure injuries cause millions and thousands of deaths every year.

The solution, in theory, is to reduce the pressure on the most affected parts of the body – basically, the thighs, and the tailbone area.

By leaning this way for a few minutes to release the pressure, then again on the other side, then forward, etc. – and if you do this continuously, if this person can remember to “lower”, he can do this. Surprisingly, the observance of such self-care is not particularly high.

Getting a molded pillow is a step up – you buy expensive foam, which is then shaved or compressed to accommodate the shape of your body. But Balz points out that this really only works for a short time – your body changes and the pillow doesn’t work, so after a month or two you need to adjust it again: expensive and time-consuming.

More recently, smart-adjacent cushions, made from a pair of interlocking cushions, have been filled and adjusted in sequence so that the pressure is not always in the same place when changing. These can be better, but the problem with them is that the pressure reduction area is small, so they still allow pressure to build up in the pain points. As Balz points out, “The risk of injury to the IT and the hip is just as vastly different, so it doesn’t make sense to treat them the same.

Calogon app to adjust pillow pressure zones.

Calogon’s solution, a pillow called the Orbiter, has five different regions corresponding to the tailbone and the left and right thigh and hip area. By allowing four out of five to breathe, the user is adequately supported and an entire area is relieved of pressure. Then after a few minutes he slowly changes that pressure to the next range and so on.

Here is a diagram of the pressure distribution from the tailbone region (darker and green means higher pressure):

“When you sit on it, we have a basic machine learning algorithm that does its best to accommodate your body at its default settings, but you can customize it to fit,” says Balz, using a companion app or a caregiver or clinic. After setting the standard setting, the pillow monitors pressure in different regions so it can adjust differently if the user is leaning forward or sideways for longer than usual (such as typing or typing).

As the pillow loosens the mid-back area, the pressure is shifted to the front, allowing better blood flow to the scrotal area.

“With 5 self-regulating cells, we can move one by one and adjust the movement – support the body but let one of the cells go down. If you look at the pressure map, you’ll see that the pressure goes below the normally accepted limit.” He continued.

Everything is powered by a battery and pump unit that clips into the wheelchair and has enough built-in power for 14-16 hours at default settings (redistributing weight every 3 minutes). Users have praised the Orbiter as a huge improvement over the traditional or semi-modern pillow. One allowed him to sit in the chair for four hours without discomfort, which he had not done for many years.

You can watch it being set up and unveiled in the video below:

Despite glowing reviews, it is difficult to prove the effectiveness of this type of setup, Balz admits, because there is not much clinical data on it yet. While there are generally agreed-upon helpful exercises such as compression, there is no international board of pillow testers that evaluates these factors. Although the company has conducted several case studies with users, there is no large study that claims the pillow reduces risk by a certain percentage. But you can say that it achieves the same effect as downloading, which everyone agrees is good practice.

That said, the VA took a chance on Kalogon in a few cases with serious accidents or existing injuries and Balz said they were very happy with the deployment. While the results are not strong enough to be published publicly, the VA’s decision to order more and collaborate on a study using the device shows confidence.

The pillow launched in February for $2,000 and is classified as a multi-pay medical device, although it’s not yet covered by insurance or Medicare or the like. That’s in the cards, Balz hopes, but for now they’re focusing on the “dozens” of VA centers that actively recommend Orbiters. Naturally, there are many veterans who can use the product, and the VA Clinic approval makes it even more affordable.

Kalogon has raised $3.3 million in seed funding with additional investment from Sawmill Angels led by DeepWork Capital, SeenFundersOrlando and VenVelo. It also collected federal grant money from the US Air Force (make of that what you will). The money is to increase the size of the company and meet demand.



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