By Olalekan Olaniyi
After our visit to the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO), my curiosity was peaked and I have been looking for ways to explore what the organization was about. When I learned about the USPTO Military Association Veteran’s Day Tribute, I was so excited because not only am I passionate about making the lives of our veterans better, this event was also going to give me the opportunity to see a veteran who is an innovator in an aspect of study that I am very interested in.
Veteran’s Day is a day to acknowledge, appreciate and respect the sacrifices the members of the U.S. military has made in the history of the country, and this occasion did just that. A key speaker of the day was Sgt. Gary Walters, Jr., a United States Army veteran who suffered injuries at war and was amputated because of it. After years of prosthetic use, he realized that the sweat caused by the heat in the prosthetic not only caused pain and discomfort, it was can also cause a series of other problems like blisters and skin infection. While studying to be an engineer, Sgt. Walters designed a cooling fan that provides a thermoelectrically cooled environment within the prosthetic socket that cools the space and removes the heat.
After winning $100,000 in grant funding, he teamed up with other experts to form a company called Leto Solutions. Sgt. Walters made it known how difficult it is to insure prosthetics and how expensive they are. The market for prosthetics is challenging, and funding is also a major concern. Creating Leto Solutions was a way for Sgt. Walters to sell his innovative product on a large scale but he made it known how difficult it is to make them available to nonveterans and civilians at large.
I learned so much from this event, I now have a better understanding of the market for prosthetic products and a little bit more about the nuances of the products. Heat, safety, sound, weight and maintenance are things scrutinized by all parties involved. These are things I would definitely have in mind when starting my own business in prosthetic research and manufacturing.