Orthopaedic Hand Surgeon’s Fresh Perspective Opens Up New Possibilities for Helping Others

Francine Marlenee Blog

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Mark E. Elzik, MD

Mark Elzik, M.D., an orthopaedic hand surgeon at St. Joseph Health System’s Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California, says that he thought he might be interested in becoming a physician early on because he was inspired by watching his physician father treat patients and make them better.

“While in school, I started volunteering in a hospital and found that it was very satisfying and rewarding to me personally to take what I had learned to help patients. I was pretty interested from the start, and when I entered medical school, I was sure I was on the right path. I thought medicine and how the body worked was fascinating, and I still do,” said Elzik.

He says that it’s difficult to find a career where you can learn and help others, and that medicine gives you the opportunity to do both.”

Dr. Elzik has been practicing medicine since 2007. He says, “Being a young doctor I see a lot of things that could be done better. I think it gives me a fresh perspective.”

He finds that some are satisfied with the way things have been, the way instruments are, or the way we currently do things. “I always tend to ask myself, how can we make this better? Why isn’t this simpler? I see numerous idea possibilities in the field of hand surgery alone,” said Elzik.

He says that when he was training at the world-renowned Philadelphia Hand Center and UCLA, he was troubled by the lack of product options to help his patients elevate their hand and wrist after injury or surgery. Elevation is a critical element to reduce swelling, relieve pain and speed healing. Lack of compliance would lead to too many unreimbursed follow up calls and visits from his patients. He was surprised and alarmed to find no products on the market that he could recommend to his patients to help them elevate their hand or wrist after surgery.

Therefore, he was in search of a way to facilitate the development of a solution and found that The Innovation Institute was the resource he needed to cultivate his idea. Their Innovation Lab started with a simple rendering of the concept followed by several rounds of prototyping, feedback gathering and iteration. The results is a product called the WingSling. The WingSling easily and securely elevates the hand above the heart with an ergonomically sound design and custom fit that can be worn comfortably for long periods of time.

WingSlingThe design incorporates an innovative pulley system to raise and lower the arm while the forearm sleeve supports the wrist with minimal pressure points. The proprietary elbow pocket creates the desired angle and tucks the arm in close to the body for safe keeping. The padded cross body support minimizes neck strain and allows WingSling to perform all functions of a traditional sling.

The Innovation Lab has a worldwide PCT patent application on file (PCT/US2016/046617) covering key elements of the product and has been awarded a US trademark for the WingSling name (87/078870).

Over three million hand and wrist injuries and surgeries occur every year, so the market opportunity is significant.