HEALTH

Summer Olympics to boost interest in tape, wraps

BY Michael Johnsen

Mark your calendars, because on Aug. 5 the world will be tuning into coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, and shortly thereafter millions of weekend warriors and fantasy athletes will be looking on drug store shelves for the latest kinesiology tape or copper compression wraps to either relieve the aches and pains generated by pick-up basketball games or beach volleyball tournaments, or to prevent sore muscles in the first place.

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Such brands as KT Tape and Copper Fit Sleeves are up in sales by 39.7% and 157.5%, respectively, reaching dollar volumes of $10.2 million and $36.7 million, for the 52 weeks ended March 20 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI.

According to the International Olympic Committee, 219.4 million Americans tuned into NBC Universal’s coverage of the London Summer Olympics four years ago. Over the course of those games, NBC averaged 31.1 million prime time viewers, making that the most-watched, non-U.S. summer games in primetime since Montreal in 1976. As was the case with Montreal, Brazil and the United States share a time zone, which means there may be more Americans tuning into the Olympics this year.

One of the U.S. Olympians in pursuit of gold will be NBA superstar James Harden, who is endorsed by KT Tape. Copper Fit Sleeves also boasts a number of athlete endorsements, including nationally ranked gymnast Sugar Tiner.

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HEALTH

Quell offers drug-free pain relief

BY Michael Johnsen

WALTHAM, Mass. — NeuroMetrix is aiming its wearable pain relief device Quell at a customer it believes is underserved. “Today, in terms of a serious therapeutic wearable device for chronic pain, we’re pretty unique,” NeuroMetrix SVP and general manager of consumer health Frank McGillin said. “There’s been an adoption of fitness trackers … and obviously rapid growth of those primarily around the ‘worried well’ — they’re either active people trying to be even more active or they’re focused on their health. But there’s this large population of Americans suffering from chronic disease, and current devices aren’t addressing what their needs are.”

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In clinical trials, about two-thirds of participants reduced their medication use when using Quell, McGillin said. According to McGillin, $50 billion a year is spent on the treatment of chronic pain, “yet [more than] half the people are saying their pain isn’t adequately controlled.”

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Heart rate monitors lead wearables charge

BY Michael Johnsen

Whether you call the category by its old-school moniker “wearables” or the relatively new catch phrase “therables,” one thing is for sure: This niche market targeting first-adopter tech geeks and fitness fanatics might not be “niche” for much longer.

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According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research, the wearable medical devices market is projected to expand at a high compound annual growth rate worldwide of 16.4% from 2015 to 2023, reaching $10.7 billion in 2023.

Heart rate monitors were identified by the report as the largest product segment of the market in 2014, and the fastest growing. “As of Dec. 31, 2015, there were 16.9 million Fitbit active users compared to 6.7 million as of Dec. 31, 2014, for a growth rate of 152%,” acknowledged James Park, FitBit chairman and CEO, earlier this year. “What’s exciting to me is that we added 18 million new registered device users in 2015, of which 13 million, or 72%, were active users at year end 2015,” he said. “While it’s still early in Fitbit’s integration into the larger healthcare world, we believe the connected health and fitness market has great potential to help people to take ownership of their health, and deliver better health outcomes.”

While heart rate monitors may be the fastest-growing, other wearable suppliers, such as NeuroMetrix, are providing wearable solutions that do more than collect data. NeuroMetrix’ Quell provides “wearable,” drug-free pain relief.

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