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Alexis Ucko and Quentin Perraudeau have been on a mission since 2014: to develop simple and innovative solutions to free as many people as possible from back pain and the daily frustrations that go with it. It’s quite a challenge given that 80% of the world’s population are affected by back pain at some point in their lives. In the UK musculoskeletal disorders account for 30% of all work-related ill health according to HSE. In just eight years, more than 300,000 users have adopted PERCKO products. Their next challenge? To help more than one million people by 2025. The UK is firmly set in their sights as a source for this growth.

The origins story of this French wearable tech start-up

Both engineers by background, Alexis Ucko and Quentin Perraudeau met during their master’s year at ESSEC Business School in France. Alexis’s father, a dentist, suffered from back pain due to being bent over his patients every day. They began brainstorming solutions to help him and soon realised that existing products were unsatisfactory. They were often too complex, limited movement, or in the case of the lumbar belt, offered only short-term relief and atrophied back muscles. None addressed the anatomical mechanical problems that caused the pain in the first place.

Co-founders Alexis Ucko and Quentin Perraudeau

With this in mind, they worked with a team of biomechanics experts, physiotherapists and osteopaths to develop their first product: the Lyne UP. A discreet ‘smart’ vest. This R&D work was made possible thanks to a hugely successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign in 2015. The €30,000 required for the project was acquired in less than seven hours and more than €385,000 was raised overall, almost thirteen times the initial objective.

Equipped with a patented system of elasticated tensors, the Lyne UP vest uses the principle of self-correction to naturally encourage the wearer to engage their posture. All while allowing full range of movement and strengthening the back muscles for long-term relief in the process. Co-founder Quentin Perraudeau explains: “we wanted to create a product accessible to all. One which doesn’t require any connection to an app or the need to recharge a battery. The entire PERCKO mechanism is based on our patented system of tensors placed on the shoulders, chest and along the spine”.

PERCKO worked with a French specialist in innovative fabrics and wearable tech to test different materials, laser cutting, lamination, laminating, and ultrasonic welding… In 2016, the first year Lyne UP was advertised, more than 10,000 of the PERCKO vests were sold.

Six years later, the Lyne range was certified as a medical device and has expanded to include a model for the home, the Lyne HOME, as well as a model adapted to sports, the Lyne FIT. After numerous requests by companies wishing to equip their personnel, PERCKO now offers two devices specifically designed for professionals: the Lyne PRO, a waistcoat for workers in the logistics, construction, and transport sectors; and the MEDI Lyne, a model dedicated to nursing staff, developed in collaboration with a dozen establishments and hospitals. Over 2,000 companies use PERCKO products today, including French rail operator SNCF.

“Companies are a major area of development because back pain is one of the main causes of sick leave” says Quentin Perraudeau.

An eye on the future

At the end of September, PERCKO entered the world of bedding in France, launching its first ever mattress and ergonomic pillow designed alongside health professionals to relieve back pain. Extensively tested in laboratories and put through their paces at every step of R&D, PERCKO is currently looking at their commercialisation in the UK.

Source: Perckhttps://percko.com/gbp/o

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Did you know that?…

In a 1988 study by the British Holistic Medical Association of those suffering from chronic pain, they preferred the Alexander Technique as their favourite approach to long-term pain relief.

Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons, or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting, or bending over.

Scans are only needed when a serious condition is suspected (cancer, fracture, infection), and only 1% of all back pain worldwide. Scans will constantly show something, which is poorly linked to back pain. Many of these findings are common in people without pain.

In the same way that a person can get a sore knee after doing an unaccustomed activity, people can get back pain when they lift something awkward or something that they aren’t used to. The key thing is practice and letting your body get used to different loads and weights.

Pain can be turned up by many factors: physical, psychological, health, lifestyle, and social factors. This means that you may feel more pain when you move or try to do something, even though you are not damaging your back.

There is extraordinarily convincing evidence that keeping active and returning to all usual activities gradually is important in aiding recovery. Surgery is rarely an option for back pain. A non-surgical option, which includes activity/exercise, should always come first.

Source: NHS

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Osteoporosis (brittle bones) is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more prone to fracture. It develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to break (fracture). Menopause can also increase the chances of developing osteoporosis because decreased oestrogen levels can lead to bone loss.

The most common injuries in people with osteoporosis are:

However, breaks can also happen in other bones, such as the arm or pelvis. Sometimes a cough or sneeze can cause a broken rib or the partial collapse of one of the spine’s bones.

Although a broken bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis, some older people develop the characteristic stooped (bent forward) posture. It happens when the bones in the spine have broken, making it difficult to support the body’s weight.

The stage before osteoporosis is called osteopenia. This is when a bone density scan shows you have lower bone density than the average for your age, but not low enough to be classed as osteoporosis. I was diagnosed with this two years ago but with the right treatment, you can still not develop osteoporosis.

I have been put on a calcium and vitamin D tablet which I take twice a day. A diet that’s low in calcium contributes to reduced bone density  (the amount of calcium and other minerals that are found in your bones), premature bone loss, and an increased risk of fracture.

Men do get osteoporosis but it is more common in women because women tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men, and may experience bone loss during menopause.

People who do not exercise regularly are also more at risk of developing osteoporosis than people who do regular exercise.

Several studies show that smoking is a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone fracture as does drinking lots of alcohol.

People who are very thin (with a BMI of 19 or under) are more at risk of developing osteoporosis, as they usually have less bone mass to draw from.

Other factors can also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, including:

  • taking high-dose steroid tablets for more than 3 months
  • other medical conditions – such as inflammatory conditions, hormone-related conditions, or malabsorption problems
  • a family history of osteoporosis – particularly a hip fracture in a parent
  • long-term use of certain medicines that can affect bone strength or hormone levels, such as anti-oestrogen tablets that many women take after breast cancer
  • having or having had an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia

Some great ways to help improve your bone health include eating more vegetables, staying active, trying weight-bearing exercises, making sure you are getting plenty of Vitamin D by being out in the sunshine or taking supplements, eating calcium-rich foods, keeping your smoking or drinking to a minimum or not at all and maintain a healthy weight.

Source: NHS, Restless