Building the MAT Table
In 2011, I started building different types of tables and exercise equipment to enable squats without the instability and fear people have of going on the total gym system. I started all this research and the desire to invent my own equipment after several patients in my clinic fell off the total gym!
I realized that the existing physical therapy equipment wasn’t suitable for some of my outpatient rehab clients.
The creation of this innovative treatment table that I’ve called “the MAT table” or “Multiple Applications Table,” is something I’ve thought about for many hours most days over many years. As I’ve worked on this project, over the past seven years I’ve worked in outpatient, hospitals, and in nursing home rehabilitation environments. Working in these very different settings has helped broaden my understanding of what is needed as I refine each generation of the MAT table.
It seems like over the past 15 years the physical therapy industry has experienced a higher number of weaker, more debilitated, and heavier patients. These are the patients who have difficulty using the current products offered in PT and rehab clinics. Most of the products in OT outpatient clinics are borrowed from fitness centers. This works great for our young healthy patients, but not so well for the above audiences.
Equipment was not something I paid much attention to early in my career. I see now that it is important for patients to feel safe and secure using Physical Therapy equipment and how much anxiety they truly have about the existing equipment. As a physical therapist, currently in practice, I have seen patients who were scared, anxious, and uncomfortable with the existing equipment.
The MAT Table is designed to ease those fears.
The MAT Table offers greater peace of mind for this particular patient population because of its larger size and heavier weight stability. With reduced fear and anxiety we will get better patient outcomes and more commitment to—and compliance with—the exercises in physical therapy.
I tested and rejected preliminary designs, starting in 2011, until I found one that worked as well as practicing PTs needed it to work in a clinic or rehab environment.
The prototype MAT Table was tested at a wellness center in Otsego, Mich. in the final months of 2018 with valuable patient input. I’m so grateful for all the therapists and patients who have given advice to help make this a better product for the rehab community.
In 2019 the exciting task of building a refined MAT Table began. The plan was for the refined product to be factory producible by the end of April 2019. Testing continued at nursing homes in Michigan when new versions of the MAT Table were built and approved. It took longer than we planned to get a final product that was FDA compliant and extremely durable. The generation 4 MAT Table is that product. We sold the first gen 4 table in 2021. We are currently continuing to sell that table and it is working well in clinics.
The final product, which was refined by multiple engineers, looked somewhat different from the pictures here.
Moving forward with this model, and in cooperation with other physical therapists, I plan to record videos showing how the table functions, especially with McKenzie, Maitland, Kaltenborn and other mobilization techniques on this table which is 5 to 10° inverted. I’ve discovered a 7° inversion is ideal for gentle traction which helps facilitate better mobilizations. The producible table will go -7°. I am very excited about all the functions the table will provide. I look forward to presenting them in the future.
At this point, I must admit I am as nervous as I am excited to go public and try to sell a product as complicated as the MAT.
Being a Physical Therapist myself, I know a bit about business, but have learned a lot with the help of many mentors and other businessmen and businesswomen who thankfully have provided their expertise to me. I sincerely hope I am creating something that makes patients feel safer and more comfortable.
I hope this will help the Physical Therapy profession—and more importantly, the patients themselves—become stronger and more functional.
Learn more about the MAT Table building process at these links:
In the Beginning: Where we started and why.
The Build: How we got here.
Success!: Our first saleable table.
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