Houston police officer uses recovery time to invent innovative medical device
Joe Cole learned the value of persistence and hard work early in life helping his father and brother cut and load puck wood growing up in Mississippi as a young boy. As a child, he always envisioned one day becoming a successful businessman, but never imagined that an unexpected sports injury would set him on the path to becoming an inventor.
He relocated to Houston with his family and later joined the Houston police force as a patrol officer, and in 1999, while playing basketball, injured his leg and was required to undergo immediate surgery.
“My leg was so swollen they could not put a cast on it, they had to put a splint on my leg up to my hip,” says Cole.
As a part of the healing process, Cole’s doctors ordered him to elevate his leg. With a projected 10-week recovery time ahead of him, Cole began to think of ways to follow the doctor’s orders to speed his healing.
“It is not always convenient to rest and elevate your leg, especially when you are out and about, so I used to prop my leg up on my crutch, but it wasn’t high enough,” said Cole.
He experimented with different ways of propping up his leg with his crutch, but had difficulty keeping his leg elevated.
“I said to myself, ‘If I can just get this crutch to stand up in a set position it would relieve the pressure. That is how the idea started,” shared Cole.
The process of trial and error led to the creation of an apparatus that could be attached to a conventional crutch to help individuals elevatean injured leg and provide a platform to rest the leg.
Cole based the design of his apparatus on a tri-pod used by sharpshooters in the military to station weapons for long-range shooting. He shared the idea with his mother, who encouraged him to move forth with the concept, but was hesitant to share his idea. After praying and receiving direction from God, he set aside his reservations and contacted an attorney to have his idea patented.
“All of this was new to me. I had no clue about getting a patent, or getting anything developed and marketed,” admits Cole.
The idea sat on the backburner during a period of personal turbulence in his life, but never left his mind. In 2000, ready to move forth with his invention, Cole displayed his device at the Apex Inventor’s Convention in New York and won a bronze medal for his invention, taking third place in the medical category. He also was featured in a New York area magazine.
He began conducting research on the Internet that led him to a manufacturer in China, where a prototype of the device was developed. With a successful mold of his product , in hand, he coined it the ColeJoint and later, launched his own company, MedCrutch, to market his invention.
Knocked off course again by personal challenges in his life, Cole was motivated through a men’s conference to resume his efforts to promote and market his product.
Now a member of the Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce, Cole has established an alliance with a member of the chamber with a background in the medical field, who is helping him grow the market base for his invention.
In looking back on his own experiences in creating his invention, Cole believes that fear and lack of knowledge and finances keeps many aspiring business owners and product inventors from making their ideas a reality.
“They are afraid, they don’t know what to do or how to do it, and they have the ideas, but don’t have the finances,” says Cole.
He credits his faith in God with helping him to move forward with his invention despite the uncertainties, citing Isaiah 41: 10 for his inspiration, “For I am the Lord your God and uphold you with my right hand and say to you do not fear for I will help you.”
After Cole took a step of faith, he still encountered challenges from others, including a member of his own family, who questioned his idea. Although he believed in his product’s value, Cole’s ability to win a favorable response from one of his sisters, who always played the devil’s advocate to his many ideas, gave him the added push to continue to find avenues to market his device.
“Knowing that she was convinced, made me that much more sure that I was on the right track, although deep inside, I already knew it,” says Cole.
He encourages others to use the criticisms of others to their advantage, by using them to refine their products. Cole is in the process of marketing the ColeJoint to various hospitals, medical supply companies and related suppliers.
The device is developed for individuals who suffer a leg, foot or ankle sprain or the professional football or basketball players or “weekend athlete” who suffers a knee or other related, injury.
For more information, call MedCrutch at 713-436-8881 or visit http://www.medcrutch.com to view an online product demonstration.