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Brace for Impact: OrthoFlexion’s Journey from Hospital to Startup

Student Founder Profile: Ella Walsh

While on co-op working at SickKids children hospital in Toronto, Ella Walsh saw parents struggle. 

Alongside Dr. Maryse Bouchard at the hospital’s Clubfoot Clinic, an outpatient centre treating children who have clubfoot, a foot abnormality in which the foot points downward and inward, parents voiced their struggle to help their kids with necessary foot bracing that aims to correct the abnormality. They would reach out in desperation for more support. 

The startup OrthoFlexion, co-founded by Ella and Dr. Bouchard, was born out of a desire to help parents and health care providers to deliver the best treatment and outcomes for children, and relieve parent’s stress. 

OrthoFlexion is making sensor attachments for orthopaedic braces and reports on brace insights such as wear time and fit to a dashboard for both parents and health care providers. It was through challenges which parents and clinicians are facing first-hand by working in clinic and gathering feedback from stakeholders. “One such challenges are that kids can be freakishly strong,” Ella says. “We are working to make our devices robust and long-lasting.”  

It was thanks to her time at SickKids, relationships forged at the hospital, with doctors and parents that OrthoFlexion has two pilots planned this summer with three others underway. Their goal this summer is to distribute 25 devices. Feedback from these pilots has already been fruitful. “The parent and clinician feedback from long-term use of our devices will be invaluable traction for both continuing to develop our clubfoot sensors and adapting our technology to other paediatric orthopaedic bracing treatments like scoliosis.”  

Ella says Dr. Bouchard is an inspiration: as a founder, skilled surgeon, and mentor who still finds time to give back through volunteering, social outreach and now OrthoFlexion. And she has inspired Ella to develop and apply a “just do it” mindset. 

“If you have an idea, even if you don’t think you’re the best person to do it or are unsure where to start, do it anyway,”

Ella Walsh, co-founder OrthoFlexion

Ella says attending events geared towards entrepreneurship, like Velocity ones, is a great way to learn how to take those first steps and meet like-minded individuals who can help you along the way.