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Transportation for critically ill patients is an essential component of navigating the journey to better health – literally and figuratively. However, ensuring comfortable, safe patient transportation that is also easy on the caregiver is often overlooked.

Tracy and Scott Comas are here to change that with the Care Continuum Chair, a product of their UAB start-up company, TPM Research.

The chair “advances the transport experience for both the patient and the caregiver,” said TPM Research CEO Scott Comas. “The chair fills a current significant gap in transport and care in an innovative, practical, scientifically-supported and clinically relevant manner.” TPM Research's Care Continuum Chair.TPM Research's Care Continuum Chair.

A decade ago a UAB start-up company licensed and developed a transport chair technology owned by UAB. Though the company was ultimately unsuccessful, the development work positioned the innovative chair technology to be snapped up again, and not soon after the original license terminated, Tracy and Scott Comas launched TPM Research to further develop and commercialize the device. Tracy, who had assisted her father through cancer treatment, saw the potential benefits of such a transport chair.

“Tracy’s personal experience caring for her father during his cancer treatments gave us a unique passion for this new idea,” Scott Comas said. “Her familiarity and frustration with the routine of transporting a very ill patient – such as frequently changing chairs, frequently changing positions, difficulty accessing bathrooms, uncomfortable seating angles – provided a lot of inspiration and motivation around this product launch.”

In 2021, TPM Research began product development efforts after securing licensing rights through UAB’s Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The company made its first sale of Care Continuum Chairs to an acute care hospital in April 2023.

The Care Continuum Chair has specific features designed to benefit both the patient and the caregiver, such as:

  • Powered Assist Lift to raise the patient’s center of gravity until it’s centered over the legs, copying the natural way of standing from a seated position;
  • A flush-to-floor footrest to reduce the risk of falling;
  • Head, neck and spinal curve comfort and stability engineering;
  • A lower center of gravity to provide stability, comfort and improved posture for patients;
  • Ergonomic handles that can be oriented vertically or horizontally for operator comfort;
  • Low-resistance wheels and weight-assisted rear-wheel maneuverability to help caregivers transport patients.

The chair and its features are a result of an advisory board made up of representatives from hospitals across the country, Scott Comas said.
“A thorough review of clinical and ergonomic engineering studies informed the many unique benefits of this chair and ensured that care features are grounded in science and are research-supported,” he said.

Right now, TPM Research is targeting hospitals and satellite facilities for sales.

Scott Comas said eventually, TPM officials believe the Care Continuum Chair can be part of caring for patients across the health care spectrum, from hospitals and outpatient facilities to assisted-living, home health and hospice care.

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