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Vessl creates adjustable socket to empower amputees to lead more fulfilling lives

Startup finds success by leading with knowledge and heart

For prosthesis users, living a comfortable life comes with its own set of challenges.

A person who has limb differences who uses a prosthesis, over the course of the day the limb volume changes, which can cause chafing and friction inside the socket, the part connected to the prosthetic. More than just causing discomfort, an improperly sized socket can lead to infection and hospitalization. In some cases, the amputee forgoes the prosthetic because of its limitations. 

When Sydney Robinson and Oleksiy Zaika first learned about this problem, they saw that current sockets, even manually adjustable ones, can hamper the quality of life for people with limb differences. 

After months of customer discovery, they established Vessl to develop an automatically adjustable socket, empowering amputees to live life more comfortably. 

“Vessl’s socket adjusts automatically as limb volume changes,” said Zaika, co-founder and CTO. “Amputees can put on the socket and go about their day without worrying about chafing, developing new blisters or having to manually adjust it in public.”  

As the company eyes the US market, they have engaged the Veteran Health Administration Innovation Network, through which they can access five health centres to receive product validation and design feedback from veterans who are amputees and their circle of care.

Robinson, co-founder and CEO, said that the company continually engages prosthetists, surgeons, wound care specialists, and most importantly amputees to ensure their product is user-centric. 

“We want to be embedded into the process of care and talk with amputees at all points of care,” Robinson said. “People are really struggling to find a solution because everyone is so unique, and they need options. We’re at a point where people reach out to us and want to try the socket and give us feedback.”  

Zaika said that when they first discovered this problem, they were heartbroken that amputees go through so much, and in the end their care can be mismanaged. 

“They can feel helpless and sometimes abandon the prothesis,” he said. “We were heartbroken to see that but approached the solution with logic — how do we make the best product, how will people afford it, and what can we do to ensure the end product is a success for the people who need it.”  

Since joining Velocity last year, Vessl has developed its first usable prototype, and has raised over $1 million in early-stage capital and non-dilutive funding. 

“Velocity has been instrumental for us to hit the ground running and a cornerstone to Vessl’s foundation” Robinson said. “We’ve created connections through advisors and the internal Velocity community, our fellow founders, that has helped us get us where we are today.”

Velocity Health companies are funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). 

See more companies at Velocity working in healthtech, deeptech and software