Design Lab’s Prototyping Stories: Learn about Fortify Rehab


Read about Fortify Lab, one of the projects from the Spring 2018 Prototyping Fund’s (a collaboration between the Design Lab @NYU MakerSpace and the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute):

Andrew Adelsheimer and I are MD/MBA students at NYU graduating in
Our mutual interest in medicine, physical fitness, and the challenge of
larger-scale health issues led to the development of Fortify Rehab, which creates
exercise devices for bedridden patients.

Our mission is to prevent the dramatic physical decline patients experience
while bedbound, especially the elderly.
Immobilization induces rapid muscle loss
and detriments to key functional abilities, such as the ability to dress, bathe, or
even feed oneself. I watched my grandmother fall victim to the vicious cycle of
hospitalization and physical decline until she was unable to live independently.
As athletes, it was difficult watching our patients melt away in bed, even as
they healed from their disease. Although physical therapy and occupational
therapy are integral to recovery, those teams are often overburdened at healthcare
institutions and patients may still spend 83% of their day in bed (and an additional
12% in a chair) (1).

We believe that these vulnerable patients deserve an opportunity to be
proactive about their recovery. The literature supports strength training in the
elderly as a safe, efficacious measure to reverse the physical decline associated
with aging and bedrest (2-5). Our portable, lightweight resistance-training device
clamps onto the footboard of a hospital bed and allows for a whole body workout
in bed, which includes lower body, core, back, and upper body exercises. Ideally,
patients would carry this device with them throughout the continuum of care, from
hospitals, to nursing facilities, and finally, to their homes.

Getting involved with the Makerspace at the NYU Tandon School of
Engineering has been essential to our ongoing prototyping process.
The 2018
Spring Prototyping Fund gave us the confidence and flexibility to begin prototyping. 
The access to professors and other experienced entrepreneurs allowed for materialization of the ideas in our heads. In addition, it opened a door to present a demo at the 2018 NYU Health Tech Symposium.


 Andrew and Will at the NYU Health Tech Symposium

Soaking up wisdom from great mentors about the pearls and pitfalls of prototyping and business development has helped us make more informed decisions.

Recently, we became members of the Stern Venture Fellows 2018 summer
accelerator at the NYU Berkley Entrepreneurship Lab,
whose framework taught us the essentials of a thriving business, such as hammering down our value
proposition and performing extensive user research. This excellent program
included a trip to San Francisco to learn from a variety of professionals in the
startup world and to get candid feedback from local venture capital funds.

The Makerspace became integral to our prototyping routine because there
was always room to work, it was a central location for our team to meet, and any
tools/scraps needed were easily accessible. We worked with Shreyas Puttaruju
(Tandon Class 2018) to create a testable prototype
and begin drafting plans for
future iterations, including the development of an internet-connected device that
allows patients and their providers to track progress on individualized workout


  One of the prototypes created by Shreyas this summer in the MakerSpace

Ultimately, prototyping has been a messy, but rewarding experience.
Though it’s exciting to see our “solution” take shape, we’ve learned to remain
dynamic and open-minded, seeking out critical feedback from the experts and
users who surround us in order to plan our next iteration.

-By Will Small (MD/MBA, NYU 2019)

1. Brown CJ, Redden DT, Flood KL, Allman RM. The underrecognized epidemic of
low mobility during hospitalization of older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009;57: 1660
2. Liu C, Latham NK. Progressive resistance strength training for improving
physical function in older adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
3. Falvey, J. R., Mangione, K. K., & Stevens-Lapsley, J. E. (2015). Rethinking
Hospital-Associated Deconditioning: Proposed Paradigm Shift. Physical Therapy,
95(9), 1307-1315.
4. Sagiv M. Safety of resistance training in the elderly. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act
(2009) 6:1–2 DOI 10.1007/s11556-009-0047-8
5. Fisher NM, Pendergast DR, Calkins E. Muscle rehabilitation in impaired elderly
nursing home residents. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1991;72:181-185