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The Atlanta-based founder wants to help women take control of incontinence

older women

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 public domain

Urinary incontinence affects millions of women, especially women in the older age group. According to the Mayo Clinic, as many as 50% of women experience some form of leakage, and that number rises to about 75% in women over age 65.

The condition can cause anxiety and isolation for those who suffer from it, but an Atlanta-based innovator is leading the effort to alleviate their discomfort, and participants in the efforts she guides are already reporting successes.

Support for women

The company’s overall goal is to put the management of urinary continence more into the hands of those who experience it.

“We are on a mission to provide women with effective, affordable and attractive alternatives to incontinence pads and surgeries… to give consumers the ability to take care of these things themselves to some extent,” said Melody Roberts, CEO and co- founder of Liv Labs.

A big part of that goal lies in the success of a device the company is developing: the Pippa Pessary.

“We are developing a simple medical device that is worn intravaginally, much like a tampon or menstrual cup,” Roberts said. “That simple device presses through the vaginal tissue against the urethra to prevent leakage. It is a mechanical solution.”

The diaphragm, she said, is currently being tested by the Food and Drug Administration, and Liv Labs expects FDA approval as early as next year. Meanwhile, the company is working on a digital health platform to support women who want to communicate behavior and movement changes to support rehabilitation and reduce or even eliminate leaks. A separate, standalone coaching program also started in January.

Start-up money and study results

Liv Labs patented its device in 2017 and began raising capital in 2021. The money came, Roberts said, based on feasibility study data for the device, which showed up to 98% effectiveness for the nine study participants who experienced frequent leakage ranging from “mild and situational to severe and all-day.”

One study participant, a woman in her 60s, reported that she was “trying not to walk” because of her symptoms of urinary incontinence, Roberts said. During one-hour standardized tests that lasted two weeks, the participant leaked more than a cup of urine without the device. Using the device, the participant saw that amount reduced to less than a quarter teaspoon.

Stand out in the aging space

Liv Labs is already gaining recognition among a sea of ​​products and services for older adults. It was a finalist for the Challenge Innovation Showcase sponsored by AgeTech Atlanta and the American Society on Aging at the society’s On Aging conference earlier this year in San Francisco. The finalists pitched to a panel of venture capitalists for a chance to win $10,000. Although Liv Labs didn’t take home the award, Roberts said she appreciates the experience of working in assistive technology for seniors and the influence she has found locally.

Liv Labs operates virtually from points across the country, but Roberts recently relocated from Chicago to Atlanta.

“I’m thrilled that Atlanta has the technical talent and clinical experts we need to grow this company,” she said. “It was great to discover that there is an AgeTech leadership here in Atlanta, operating on a national level, setting the pace and enjoying what is possible.”

The company expects FDA approval for the device as soon as next year and is making progress in building out its digital platform. The integration of a machine learning component will enable automation of part of the customer experience so that more women can be served at a lower cost and with a more personalized experience, Roberts said.

Liv Labs’ first service, coaching, has now been commercialized with an intensive three-week experience designed for women who are not ready to try medical care, but are not finding answers through personal research, and are unhappy with the relying on sanitary towels or diapers. . Interested parties can access the program, K+ Circuit Training, at livlabsfitness.com.

Opportunity and empathy

Roberts highlighted the amount of opportunity for innovation in the aging world regarding quality of life.

“Everyone my age – in their 50s – has parents in their 70s or 80s, and you really see what they’re going through and the enormous amount of opportunity there is for medical and scientific advancement, and then just improvements in everyday life. “

She also emphasized the importance of empathy among those working on innovation for seniors.

“What strikes me about AgeTech entrepreneurs is that many of them are inspired by the experiences of a family member,” she said. “It really becomes imperative to not just find ways to sympathize – to see what someone else is going through and want to change that – but to actually sympathize and try to understand the circumstances and possibilities of people’s needs. simulate what is provided.”

2024 The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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