Kinetic Muscles Celebrates 10 Years of Making a Difference for Stroke Survivors

Back in 2002, I attended my first Arizona Venture Capital Conference (which today has evolved into Invest Southwest).  It was early in the morning that first day and the crowd was starting to arrive.  For a newbie like me, it was a bit daunting so I decided to find an  out of the way spot to take it all in.  There was a set of chairs off to the side where a man sat going over what looked like a presentation set and I decided that was the place to be.  That’s when I first met James Koeneman, PhD, Chief Science Officer and co-founder of Kinetic Muscles, Inc.  Soon I was not paying any attention to the crowd.  Instead I was learning about KMI’s vision for helping stroke survivors recover the ability to do the little things most of us take for granted with their Active Repetitive Motion™ therapy solution a system to assist the brain in neuromuscular re-education making significant motor recovery available for many stroke survivors.

Fast forward, almost a decade, to today and I am looking forward to seeing Jim again this week.  I’m a newbie once again, this time as the new President/ CEO of AZBIo, but KMI’s now a veteran in their space and has ‘raised the bar’ in terms of the treatment and long-term results that stroke patients and their families can expect. On May 26, 2011,co-founders Ed and Jim Koeneman, President/CEO Grant Farrell and all the KMI team are celebrating the Tempe, Arizona based company’s 10th Anniversary by opening their doors to their friends and supporters as well as members of our Arizona bioscience community.  (for more information or to register to attend click here.)

Kinetic Muscles, Inc. has ‘raised the bar’ in terms of the treatment and long-term results that stroke patients and their families can expect. You can also see this and more videos at

Since the team will be busy accepting well deserved congratulations on Thursday , I asked Ed Koeneman, KMI’s COO and co-chair of the Greater Phoenix Leadership Council here at AZBio, for  a pre-anniversary interview.

AZBIO:  Who started Kinetic Muscles and Why?

Hand MentorEK:  Jim and I (Ed Koeneman)  founded Kinetic Muscles Inc. (KMI) in May of 2001 with the goal of improving the quality of life of stroke survivors. New scientific discoveries on how the brain recovers after an injury were emerging that proved to be very beneficial. However, most therapies available at the time were cost prohibitive. We developed the first Hand Mentor and registered with the FDA in 2003. Since then, the Hand Mentor, and subsequently the Foot Mentor, have been used in physical and occupational therapy clinics world-wide. Kinetic Muscles has recently launched a home therapy program that is ideally aligned to new healthcare aims of improved healthcare at lower cost.

AZBIO:   You are celebrating your 10thAnniversary this month – what are some of the highlights of the last 10 years?

EK:  Our team has accomplished so much in the last decade.  Together we have survived two global recessions and the Hand Mentor and Foot Mentor have been deployed in 150 of the  top rehab clinics in US.  In addition KMI has won $8+M in grants and contracts from NIH and DoD.  As we celebrate  our 10th anniversary this month, KMI is a privately held corporation with more than $1 million in  products sold.

Timeline – Kinetic Muscles Inc.
April 1999 – Ed and Jim start working on Hand Mentor prototypes
May 2001 – Kinetic Muscles officially incorporated
Fall 2001 – Started first clinical trials on the Hand Mentor
March 2003 – KMI’s Hand Mentor registered with FDA
March 2003 – Summer 2006 – test marketing of the Hand Mentor in AZ
Summer 2007 – Nationwide launch of completely redesigned Hand Mentor Pro
Summer 2008 – signed supplier agreement with Healthsouth (largest rehab chain in US)
January 2010 – Signed international distribution agreement
Spring 2010 – Nationwide launch of new Foot Mentor Pro
Spring 2011 – Launch of Mentor Home service for the Hand Mentor and Foot Mentor
May 2010 – Signed license agreement for China

Awards and Recognitions
2004 – Medial Design Excellence Award – The Hand Mentor Rehabilitation System
2004 – R&D 100 Award – The Hand Mentor Rehabilitation System
2004 – Innovator of the Year, Startup Company – Governor’s Celebration of Innovation
2005 – Medical Device Company of the Year – Arizona BioIndustry Association
2007 – Arizona Innovation Award – from Gov. Napolitano
2008 – Medical Design Excellence Award – The Hand Mentor Pro Rehabilitation System

AZBIO:  Ten years is an important milestone. What are some of the lessons you have learned that you would like to share with other Arizona Bio organizations?

Drop Foot Treatment with The Foot Mentor™EK:  We have survived two global recessions. Out of necessity, we have learned that it is crucial to consider all forms of funding sources. KMI and our research partners, have won over $8M in research grants. At one time, the AZ Dept. of Commerce had a program called FAST which provided seed grants to help small companies write their large grant proposals. From that program we brought in $2M in Federal grant money. When you can win a grant to write a grant and win that one… you are really on to something. However, these research grants don’t cover manufacturing, sales or marketing expenses. For those, we sought out angel investors who could really connect with our mission and values. Along with the standard friends and family angels, the ATIF angel investor group has been very supportive of our efforts.

Continually evaluate your business plan and adjust. For example, the landscape of healthcare finance is dramatically changing with evolution in healthcare policy, politics, federal research budgets, and global economic conditions. Fortunately, we have managed to precisely align Kinetic Muscles’ business model with these market dynamics. Don’t let your business plan get stale. You don’t have to completely reinvent yourself, just be open minded about what you are seeing in your target industry and flexible enough to adjust your course as necessary.

It helps to have a service or value proposition that people can rally behind. Stroke is a national epidemic. Almost everyone we talk to knows a stroke survivor and has an emotional story to tell. We are able to connect at a very personal level with a large percentage of the population. When people hear our mission and values, they are very generous in giving their time and resources. We have benefited from many low-cost and no-cost resources because people believe in our mission and want to help us to help others.

AZBIO:   What are you looking forward to accomplishing in the NEXT 10 years?

EK:  Our products have already helped tens of thousands of stroke survivors. People of all ages suffer stroke with Baby Boomers driving double-digit growth for at least the next 20 years. We look forward to improving the lives of many millions of stroke survivors, helping them retain or regain their independence, and enabling them to continue productive lives.

In addition to stroke, we will also continue to apply our solutions to help growing patient populations suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, and Parkinson’s.


Get Connected:

Kinetic Muscles Inc.
1800 W. Broadway Rd., Suite 3
Tempe, AZ 85282

T: 480-557-0448

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