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Carpal Tunnel? The Helpful Hand Brace
OT Turned Inventor Develops Novel Assistive Device
M.H. Bennett Offers a Helpful Hand
Revolutionary New Wrist Brace Promises Healing Without Injuring Lifestyle, And Hope For Those With Hand Impairments

Carpal Tunnel? the Helpful Hand Brace
Author: George Lawrence

This is an independent review of our neoprene wrist support by George Lawrence, professional drummer from the famous band "Poco", who also has Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. He is the editor of " Not So Modern Drummer Magazine". This article is taken from their Winter, 2010 publication. Read the article

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OT Turned Inventor Develops Novel Assistive Device
Author: Teddy Durgin

NewslineAt cocktail parties, Marc H. Bennett, MS, OTR/L, sometimes doesn't know what to tell people he does. For 17 years, he has been an occupational therapist. But he is so much more than that. When asked what he does for a living, he is just as apt to reply "entrepreneur" or "inventor." His latest invention? The Helpful Hand, a special brace that gives those suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome, multiple sclerosis or other problems affecting the hand or wrist the ability to grasp objects while not damaging tissue that is in the process of healing.

Bennett states, "I came up with the idea for The Helpful Hand after a few years as a therapist. I had noticed many of my patients with deficits in hand function continued to have difficulty holding and using tools like pens, spoons, brushes and so forth. The adaptive equipment available—such as foam build-ups, built up handles, etc.—didn't work that well. If the patient was too weak to hold the tool, then the larger size handles didn't help. Universal cuffs only helped hold a few items. They did not encourage spontaneous hand function."

Bennett spent a long time racking his brain for ideas and finally came up with the basic idea of support for the tripod pinch. "Use of the tripod pinch," he explains, "is how we perform our fine motor skills, and if I could find a way to do this, then we would have something that would help people use a wide variety of tools. I then went out and bought some fabric, went home and sewed something up. I was very excited. It looked like my idea worked!"

Unfortunately, says Bennett, the initial product looked "really awful." Even worse, it was hard to get on and off. "I knew I would have to get help. But what should I do? Where should I go? I had learned a few things after my first invention—an exercise machine for the hand, wrist, foot and ankle—but the people I had met were in different fields of expertise. To make a long story short, it took me years and a lot of hard work to get my product manufactured professionally. Not to mention the cost of the patents. But I'm convinced The Helpful Hand will help a lot of patients."

Bennett had always been naturally distrustful of taking his ideas to major corporations and losing control. "The first thing that scared me and took me a long time is I didn't know who to show the product and who to get help from. I didn't want to take it to a big company because I was scared they would steal it. After many years of work, I felt I had developed a special product that would help a lot of people. No one came up to me with the ‘offer you can't refuse.' While I've had some interest from some large companies, no one seemed interested enough to give it the attention I felt it deserved. I couldn't just let it go. The product just had too much potential."

Going the entrepreneur route seemed like the best decision personally, he adds. "It has been a long, slow process. This is indeed my second invention. The first one, I realized that I wasn't going to sell it for several million dollars like I had dreamed. So, I guess I decided that if I am going to come up with an idea and put all of this work into it, I want to get something out of it, too. I decided that probably the only way was for me to do it as a business."

At the same time, Bennett has been forced to overcome his own limited business expertise. In addition to coming up with the basic idea and design for The Helpful Hand, and starting his own company, M.H. Bennett, Inc. (based out of Wheeling, Illinois), there was a lot he had to learn about the inventing process. He states, "Being that I had been a therapist for almost 20 years in the healthcare field and working with people with disabilities, I am not exactly a businessman. It's not my expertise. So, basically, a lot of this I have been trying to learn on the way."

He continues, "Not knowing who to go to, the first thing I would tell any budding inventors out there to do is go see a patent agent or a patent lawyer and then get a non-disclosure agreement. That is an agreement that says basically whoever you show it to has to keep this a secret and not tell anybody. And, hey, here is a real good piece of advice I learned: You have to even include your family and friends! If you are going to give them the details of your invention, you have to have them sign non-disclosure agreements. It sounds silly. But I was told by at least one patent lawyer that if it ends up that you are in a patent battle in a courtroom and it was found out that you talked to friends and family about your product, it sounds like you were not treating the product idea like it was secret. So, you would lose your patent battle just on that. With my first product invention, I actually had to go back and have all of my family members sign non-disclosure agreements. With anybody you talk to about the details of your idea, you have to have them sign a non-disclosure."

Bennett notes that a patent search was his next step. He had to find out if there was another product like his. Thankfully, there wasn't anything like The Helpful Hand out there. "You have to hire somebody to do the search in Washington, usually through a patent agent or lawyer," he says. "Then, you have to make a working model to see if your product is really going to work. I guess I would say that I am more of an idea person. I don't really know how to physically make things very well. So, to find someone who would put in some time, make my idea a priority and make the product for me while talking him through it was very difficult and took a lot of time. That is probably what took most of the time over the years."

Luckily, all of his hard work paid off. The Helpful Hand's patented support system pulls the user's thumb and first two fingers together, allowing damaged tissue to rest. The brace includes an adjustable strap that holds many objects for the user. Currently, it is only available via Bennett's Web site, www.thehelpfulhand.com. Bennett is so sure the product will help that he is currently offering a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

He states, "I have done a lot of online learning, a lot of learning about the Internet and learning how to do Web sites. Getting my Web site up and running took a lot of work. This is my second Web site actually. And even though I hired some people to help me this time, I've found that you really can't just let people do what they want. You need to know what you are doing so that you can guide them. Otherwise, you don't really get what you want. I guess you can say that I am very hands-on."

In addition to holding four US patents for Rehabilitation Equipment with several more pending, Bennett also continues to be a strong supporter of the OT profession. He received his bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of Illinois in 1984. Seven years later, he completed a master's degree in occupational therapy at the University of Indianapolis.

"I first worked with disabled children in college in an adaptive physical education class," he recalls. "I continued working with developmentally disabled children and adults throughout college. I found helping disabled persons to be extremely rewarding, and I decided to make it my life's work. The question was, in exactly what capacity? I had narrowed it down to special education, occupational therapy and physical therapy by the time I earned my bachelor's degree. After a few more years working in private facilities for the developmentally disabled—in capacities such as behavior specialist, job coach, workshop manager and becoming involved in supported employment programs—I decided to go back to school to get my master's degree in occupational therapy."

After nearly two decades on the job, he has his concerns about where the profession is headed. "Quality of care is definitely suffering due to the volume of patients we are being asked to see. When I was in school, they said not to see more than six patients per day, and that was in the clinic, not home health. Now, to be full time, you need to see two times that at least, if not three times that. And we are being pushed very hard in some places. I have never seen people talk about allied healthcare unions, but the time may be nearing."

That is one of the reasons why inventing has appealed to him so much. "I continue to have the desire to invent new therapeutic products," he comments, "and I have many ideas for new products. If The Helpful Hand is commercially successful, I may have the resources to continue my avocation or vocation of inventing rehabilitation equipment. Early indications are positive. Everyone really likes it so far. I just don't have a big budget for advertising like the big companies do, but I don't give up easily. I believe in my product too much. I would also like to help others transform their ideas into useful therapeutic products and help to market them. I can't tell you how many therapists tell me they have ideas for products after they find out I have patents. But the big companies won't help you. They may steal from you or simply won't have time for you. I am selling my product on the Internet and plan to sell other products, as well."

While Bennett is fearful of companies stealing his idea, he is very supportive of the inventing process in general. He even encourages other OTs to follow in his entrepreneurial footsteps. "I think that it is important for the inventing process to be nurtured and respected," he states. "If you have an idea for a product and you let it go or you give it away for nothing, somebody else will benefit from your great idea. I am a big believer in that everybody has at least one great idea in them and probably more. I think therapists, especially OTs, are trained to make adaptive equipment. We are trained to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. That training is where I came up with the idea for this product. As a young therapist, I saw that people were having hand problems and their residual problems were such that therapy was not going to help. They needed an adaptive device, and there were no good adaptive devices out there. So, I created my own. Sometimes, you run into problems that maybe only you can solve. Why not go that next step and finish a product? Hopefully, you'll find a way to sell it, whether to a catalog company or somewhere else."

Bennett freely admits that being an entrepreneur is both exciting and scary at the same time. He became an inventor because he wanted a product that no one had. "Necessity truly is the mother of invention," he states. "But you have to stick with it. I have been working on this probably seven or eight years now at least. It's finally ready to go, and I have been selling. It has been hard for me, not really having a business background, to even get this far. The fact that I am even in business and actually selling is a big thing for me now."

Marc Bennett, MS, OTR/L, is an OT and the inventor of The Helpful Hand, which can be purchased online via www.thehelpfulhand.com. Bennett has a bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in occupational therapy from the University of Indianapolis.

Teddy Durgin is a freelance journalist who is on the staff of NEWS-Line for Occupational Therapists and COTAs.

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Revolutionary New Wrist Brace Promises Healing Without Injuring Lifestyle, And Hope For Those With Hand Impairments

Chicago, IL -- April 28, 2008 -- M.H. Bennett Inc. has released The Helpful Hand, a revolutionary new brace designed to assist treatment of hand, wrist, and thumb injuries as well as chronic conditions, while simultaneously allowing normal, everyday function.

For all who suffer ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or tennis elbow, this breakthrough brace opens the door to a life no longer dominated by pain and inactivity.  By immobilizing the affected areas, The Helpful Hand provides the opportunity for damaged or inflamed tissue to rest and heal, but with its patented support system, it also enables its wearer to easily grasp and hold dozens of everyday objects without any stress or strain.

The real breakthrough, however, is its triple patented support system that both holds and stabilizes everyday objects with the use of a support strap, and supports the Tripod Pinch to assist with fine motor skills.  It is in this way that stress is taken off of injured tissues, which in turn will promote faster healing, eliminate pain, and also improve fine motor skills. By using an adjustable strap that will hold anything as small as a sewing needle or as large as a small cup in the hand, the amount of gripping force needed to hold and manipulate an object is greatly reduced.  In addition to this, because the Tripod Pinch is so pivotal in performing fine motor tasks, The Helpful Hand is the only brace on the market that assists with this effort by correctly positioning the thumb in opposition to, and in closer proximity with, the index and middle fingers. 

On the tennis court, on the golf course, in the garden, or just around the house, The Helpful Hand accommodates any lifestyle.  Each brace is created from high-quality materials that promote comfort and durability.

The Helpful Hand is immediately available for purchase at http://www.thehelpfulhand.com, as well as a select few retail stores.  In order to ensure the perfect fit for everyone, three models are presented, each offered in a range of sizes.  They vary according to the specific condition of the person and to the degree of needed support. 

M.H. Bennett Inc. is a company founded in March of 2005 that specializes in products promoting rehabilitation and independence for people with any type of disability.

Owner Marc Bennett, MS OTR/L has been a practicing Occupational Therapist in the Chicago area for more than 17 years. Teaching, evaluating, and designing adaptive solutions, Mr. Bennett has been avidly engaged in helping others meet their potential throughout his career.  His work with people with disabilities began in the early 80s during which time he has helped thousands regain abilities lost due to injury or illness.

For information: http://www.thehelpfulhand.com or
Contact: info@thehelpfulhand.com
Phone/FAX: (847) 749-4192
Cell Phone: (312) 315-3872


Please call if you'd like more information on this product, or to schedule a demonstration.

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Free Pamphlet with Purchase

Great for joint pain relief
Great for joint pain relief

Perfect for arthritis joint pain so you can work
Perfect for arthritis joint pain so you can work

Ideal for joint pain
Ideal for joint pain

What Is the "Tripod Pinch"? Why should you care?
To perform dozens of daily tasks, you must be able to grasp objects with your thumb, index finger and middle finger-a skill known as the 'tripod pinch.' The Helpful Hand™ is the only brace on the market today that helps you do it.
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