As Ian Engelman matriculated at Tufts University, he expected a career in Electrical Engineering. All that changed in the summer of 1985, when he landed an internship. At first it seemed that the opportunity to work for NASA would be a door to a solid career, but it didn’t turn out that way. For Ian, the slow pace of incremental work and inability to use his creativity in a more direct way at NASA meant that a new path forward was needed.
Rehab Engineering was considered. Then Ian asked a professor — “someone must make artificial limbs, who does that?” The field of artificial limbs is professionally known as Prosthetics, proclaimed the instructor. Hmmm. It didn’t take long — this felt like a calling. Shortly thereafter, Ian was on his way to Northwestern University. The Prosthetics & Orthotics School, in downdowntown Chicago, is attached to the Northwestern’s Medical School. A piece of Ian’s post-graduate work included designing a museum display at the Research Institute of Chicago.
The field of Prosthetics & Orthotics didn’t require state license at the time, however the American Board of Certification was and continues to be the gold standard of professional credentialing in the United States. The two fields share a similar set of skill sets, material choices and biomechanical considerations. Some consider it to be the most qualified allied health profession to evaluate biomechanics and human ambulation.
In 2003 Ian left private practice to address a need he saw for a better, lighter and more ergonomic brace for drop foot. After he got his national certification in Prosthetics and Orthotics, he went on to earn a Master of Science in Allied Health from UCONN with a concentration in research techniques. In 1991 he became a Certified Prosthetist Orthotist and has spent more than a decade honing his craft.
Similar to the scope of practice of a prosthetist, orthotists work with physicians and other health care professionals in a clinical setting to rehabilitate the physically challenged, with a common goal of enabling individuals to function to the best of their ability.
The early years at Insightful Products were consumed building custom braces for the clinical market where the patients’ foot is cast and a brace is built individually for each patient. Out of this work the Step-Smart Brace was born and since then, Insightful Products has helped more than 20,000 people walk more easily and comfortably.
The majority of brace companies outsource production of at least some part of their product to foreign countries. We don’t. We design and manufacture our braces in a small business park located in Scarborough (population 18,919) – nestled on the coast of Maine.
We believe in solving problems with innovative designs and supporting our clients in understanding and incorporating our products into their lives.
“Made in the USA is a worthwhile effort”, says Ian — “one that benefits our customers, our company and the community where we do business. Our future generations matter.” Jobs for our children and grandchildren are important because they too will need to build a life for themselves and provide for their families. We take pride in our nation, in our independence, and above all in the products that we make – braces with excellent craftsmanship and superior design and quality.
A Simple Idea
Build better braces and help people walk.