Posted: November 8th, 2023
Description of The Industry
Canes and crutches, otherwise known as assistive devices for personal mobility are widely employed to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. The device helps people with leg amputations or walking problems. The geriatric population is growing at a faster rate than the Gen Z generation (Saunders et al. 2013). The trend leads to an increase in the incidence rates of deformities, diminishing functions and chronic ailments. Accidents and injuries equally increase the need for crutches and other manual mobility devices.
The Current Market
The assistive mobility market is segmented into crutches, canes and accessories. The canes section is divided into folding, offset and quad canes (Saunders et al. 2013). When it comes to crutches, the market is divided into auxiliary and forearm crutches. The proposed product falls under auxiliary crutches. In terms of consumers, Manocha et al. (2021) informs that there were over 70000 injuries that led to cane and crutch use in the United States between 2002-2010. The statistic is indicative of a compound annual growth rate in the assistive mobility market.
Anticipated Future Market Potential
The canes and crutch market is estimated to grow by an annual growth rate of 4.3% as according to Warees et al. (2021). The main factor associated with the positive growth rate is the expanding geriatric population. There is equally an increase in the number of hip, knee and joint replacements due to a surge in the number of road collisions. The International Osteoporosis Foundation estimated in 2018 that over 200 million people suffer from osteoporosis (Warees et al. 2021). The aging population will ultimately lead to an increase in osteoporosis cases.
While the Pacific Asia region is the fastest growing market, North America still dominates the general market. The market has the largest aging population. Moreover, the North America has a higher incidence rate for arthritis, osteoporosis etc. (Manocha et al. 2021). In 2017 alone, 60 million North Americans were using crutches and canes. Such a market benefits from robust healthcare infrastructure and government initiatives.
The canes and crutch industry experiences moderate competition. The industry has several major players, namely Medical Depot, Cardinal Health, Medline Industries, GF Health Products and NOVA medical Products. The market is dominated by these five players, which makes the market not highly competitive. Minor companies include Invacare Corporation, Sunrise Medical, Ottobock and BESCO. All companies covered engage in product development and distribution.
While the main market for canes and crutches are the elderly, there is a minor emerging market associated with obese individuals. Falls and injuries among the elderly comprise the major market. However, according to Nagasaki et al. (2014), overweight individuals account for twenty-four percent of fall-related injuries reported from 2009-2012. The cumulative impact of the coronavirus pandemic is equaly causing a surge in demand for medical devices, including mobility assistive devices.
The proposed product targets the expanding geriatric population, which comprises of individuals above the age of sixty. Apart for a higher likelihood of falling, the elderly also suffers from osteoporosis, gout and arthritis (Manocha et al. 2021). The proposed business equally targets obese individuals, who also have a higher probability of falling. There is some form of social stigma that prevents overweight individuals from using canes and crutches (Ridao-Fernández et al. 2018). The design of the proposed product does not go on the armpit, but rather the forearm, which creates a better stance and improves user confidence.
The United Nations anticipates a rise in the aging population to 2.1 billion by 2050. In 2017, the U.N reported the elderly population stood at 962 million (Warees et al. 2021). The statistics outline a probable market expansion of nearly two and a half times by mid-century. The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported in 2018 that there are over 600000 knee replacement surgeries, 2 million cases of spondyloarthritis and 54 million active cases of arthritis (Warees et al. 2021). Another study informs there are over 200 million cases of osteoporosis worldwide.
Problem to Be Solved
The healthcare industry has a long history of using mobility assistive devices. However, the conventional cane and crutch is positioned under the armpit. The product design offers poor weight adjustment, hence can lead to further falls and injuries (Saunders et al. 2013; Ridao-Fernández et al. 2018). The proposed crutches are not placed under the armpits, but on the forearm to remove pressure from the legs and ankles to transfer it to the upper torso and arms. As a result, the product helps prevent compressive neuropathy, typically associated with the traditional crutches.
Anticipated Consumer Outcomes
Contemporary consumers want forearm crutches because of it is a superior walking aid. Forearm crutches can be used by both short-term and long-term users with minimal impact on individual neuropathies (Manoche et al. 2021). Despite the shift towards forearm crutches, the United States market still prioritizes underarm walking aids. Therefore, the proposed product will be entering the market when it is prime for forearm crutches.
Barriers to Market Entry
The change in distribution channel is the main barrier to market entry. As aforementioned, the five dominant players control most of the distribution. Moreover, the main product under their distribution line is the traditional underarm crutch. Contemporary stores have to counter this effect by tapping in into the e-retailing market. Forearm crutches equally cost more to product per unit compared to underarm crutches due to the extended steel arm.
Solutions to Barriers
The proposed product can leverage online marketing and e-retail to capture a substantial market share. E-retailing provides consumers with a convenient distribution channel, as it allows price comparisons and is associated with faster delivery (Warees et al. 2021). There is an increasing inclination of people towards online shopping, including the elderly population. The heightened uptake of telemedicine will equally facilitate the shift towards purchasing medical aids online.
|Customers||Cost per Unit||Year One||Year Two||Year Three|
|Basic auxiliary forearm crutch||$35||$7000||$10500||$15750|
|Luxury auxiliary forearm crutch||$100||$5000||$7500||$11250|
Summary of Findings
Clinical practice is increasingly becoming aware of quality of life concerns associated with crutch use. Traditional canes and crutches are linked to under arm pain and sensory interference. Despite the product design flaws, the cane and crutch industry is experiencing a momentous expansion due to the aging population. There is equally an underserved market due to social stigma associated with using canes because of being overweight. The proposed crutches guarantee to improve weight and pressure distribution to enable long-term use. The technical improvements on the body frame reduce the probability of falls. With the increased uptake of telemedicine and e-commerce, this is the most suitable time to introduce a different forearm crutch into the market. All things considered, the proposed crutch represent a risky opportunity with the possibility of huge returns.
Manocha, R., MacGillivray, M. K., Eshraghi, M., & Sawatzky, B. J. (2021). Injuries associated with crutch use: A narrative review. PM & R: The Journal of Injury, Function, And Rehabilitation, 13(10), 1176–1192. https://doi.org/10.1002/pmrj.12514
Nagasaki, T., Katoh, H., Arizono, H., Chijimatsu, H., Chijiwa, N., & Wada, C. (2014). Analysis of crutch position in the horizontal plane to estimate the stability of the axillary pad in the axilla during single-crutch walking. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 26(11), 1753–1756. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.26.1753
Ridao-Fernández, C., Chamorro-Moriana, G., & Ojeda, J. (2018). Influence of the load exerted over a forearm crutch in spatiotemporal step parameters during assisted gait: pilot study. Biomedical Engineering Online, 17(1), 98. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12938-018-0527-z
Saunders, L. L., Krause, J. S., DiPiro, N. D., Kraft, S., & Brotherton, S. (2013). Ambulation and complications related to assistive devices after spinal cord injury. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 36(6), 652–659. https://doi.org/10.1179/2045772312Y.0000000082
Warees, M., Clayton, L. & Slane, M. (2021). Crutches. StatPearls Publishing.
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