Canada’s best source for physiotherapy equipment

Beginning in 1989, Quebec-based OrthoCanada has been a manufacturer and distributor of physiotherapy equipment. The company is led by President Judith Stanfield, as well as Alain Veilleux, General Manager with OrthoCanada, who this month spoke with The Canadian Business Journal about the company’s new products, as well as new trends within the Canadian healthcare industry.

New product launches

In 2010, OrthoCanada launched a new elastic tape known as K-Tape, a sports medicine product that treats and prevents sports-related injuries. When applied to ligaments, muscles, or body tendons, K-Tape provides the user with pain relief and support, in addition to an accelerated recovery time from sports-related injuries. K-Tape has certainly proven to be a popular product within the healthcare industry.

“More than 50 per cent of the population has already seen the product. We’re doing well with it,” Veilleux said. “We’ve partnered with Sports Physiotherapy Canada, an association with deep knowledge of athletic and sports injuries. Together, we’re bringing this product and technique behind taping to the population.”

To support this new product, OrthoCanada launched K-Taping Academy Canada in 2010, allowing K-Taping specialists to join the International Academy Forum discussions with practitioners around the world.

The Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada (PFC) also benefits from the K-Taping Academy Canada as a percentage of all K-Tape supplies sales is given back to PFC to help fund physiotherapy research projects in Canada.

“There are many different manufacturers of the tape, but what I felt was lacking in this process was in-depth education for physiotherapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, sports medicine doctors, kinesiologists, and many other areas of medicine where this tape is useful,” said Stanfield, who added that the results are already paying off, as many practitioners who have engaged in these educational courses and who have integrated this learning are already seeing a nice level of success in their applications.

“For me, it is important to bringing a knowledge base when we can to our profession. It’s not just about selling products,” Stanfield summarized.

Another new product distributed across the country by OrthoCanada is known as NuStep, a unique, bicycle-style piece of total body exercise equipment that promotes physical fitness, wellness, and voluntary movement for users, whether or not they are recovering from illness or injury.

Industry trends

OrthoCanada has grown from its initiation, when it served about 50 clinics, to serve a much broader spectrum of rehabilitation facilities, including more than 1,000 physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinics, hospital, nursing homes, universities and colleges, sports teams and associations, and government agencies such as the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Space Agency.

While still a manufacturer and distributor, in recent years, OrthoCanada has concentrated on growing new technologies within the injury rehabilitation industry, not only within Canada, but also internationally, including the United States, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and Israel. OrthoCanada unites technology from different parts of the world to best meet the growing challenges with the healthcare, and more specially physiotherapy, industry.

The healthcare industry has become more diverse and, as such, OrthoCanada certainly notes the demographic shift across Canada, particularly the aging baby boomers demographic, a growing percentage of the population that is affecting the industry. It is a trend that has seen more and more clinics spring up across the country in recent years, across all provinces.

“There is a recognition throughout the industry that more activity will be coming through the pipeline in the next 10 to 15 years,” Veilleux said. “At the same time, in the last six to 12 months, we’ve also felt a slowdown because there are some fears of starting a new clinic.

“In terms of government planning and overall capital expenditures and rebuilding new facilities, we see that throughout Canada there is a level of preparedness going on of organization building for the future because the demand will be greater.”

Another industry trend recognized by OrthoCanada is insurance payments for physiotherapy and other orthopedic care. As Stanfield noted, “The whole insurance level of paying for physiotherapy has been cut back and will probably continue to be cut for most people. I’m noticing that there are now big groups forming in Canada, meaning you have business coming into Canada in the private clinic world that are buying up the clinics. This is a very significant development in Canada, as there is real consolidation going on and it will have an impact on the delivery of treatment.”

According to Stanfield, OrthoCanada strives to match its customers’ patient needs and budget with the most suitable product, rather than a more traditional process of forcing a product sale.

“OrthoCanada is different from most companies because when a clinician phones they can ask questions to a physiotherapist about the features of something they’re looking to buy,” Stanfield explained. “But if we had a weakness, I’ve always said we don’t tend to be aggressive enough, because we do have the calls come to us, so we’re much more situated in responding to our customers rather than going out and trying to get other people to buy from us.” 

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