October 3, 2019
South Bend, Ind. — A startup company in South Bend that invented a way for amputees to learn to use artificial limbs significantly earlier in their recovery has received $20,000 from Elevate Ventures. The funding, through Elevate’s Community Ideation Fund and made possible through a partnership with Startup South Bend-Elkhart, will enable Enlighten Mobility to develop two prototypes.
Enlighten Mobility was founded in 2017 by Marissa Koscielski five years after she experienced a brush with paralysis. A mass was removed from her back by Mayo Clinic while she was in high school, and physicians told her that her chances of walking again were slim.
Looking at a closet of available physical therapy equipment, Koscielski recalls creating a “contraption” with two components: a gait trainer, which is a type of walker for guiding patients as they relearn normal walking motion; and a brace that attaches to the gait trainer and the patient for teaching proper leg movement.
The device helped Koscielski walk again. Now extensively refined and called the Enlight Gait Trainer, the current device can put amputees back in motion within days of surgery rather than the typical months or years. The upshot is faster, more complete recovery.
“The status quo is failing our patients,” Koscielski said. “With the Enlight Gait Trainer we empower our patients to maximize their potential.”
Koscielski improved the design while at the University of Notre Dame completing a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in science and entrepreneurship in the university’s ESTEEM Program. Enlighten Mobility is headquartered at Innovation Park on campus.
Guiding Koscielski through the process of entrepreneurship was Elevate Ventures and Startup South Bend-Elkhart.
“The Enlighten Mobility team has taken all of the right steps, especially customer engagement, to validate a compelling problem and develop a valuable solution,” said Gavin Ferlic, an Elevate Ventures Entrepreneur-in-Residence focused on the South Bend-Elkhart region.
Koscielski envisions taking Enlight Gait Trainer to market within a year and designing additional solutions to aid others with mobility restrictions.