Filling the gap

Kasra Zarei joined the Iowa Medical Innovation Group (IMIG) with the goal to research and develop novel medical devices.

IMIG is a two-semester program that introduces students to all phases of medical device/technology development. Students from the colleges of Business, Engineering, Law, and Medicine collaborate in a real-world environment to identify a medical need, create a solution, and move it through the development and commercialization process.

Zarei and his IMIG group worked with a patient with a neuromuscular condition that made grasping and picking up objects extremely difficult; the patient's fine motor skills were limited. After doing research, Zarei found that there wasn’t a well-designed and durable solution for problems like this.

He started to wonder how he could fill that gap. “What if we came up with a wearable garment to improve grip?” says Zarei. “Something that helps with picking up everyday objects.”

Gheko Health was born when Zarei and his team began to develop a glove that only covers certain parts of the hand to help with grip assistance.

Solutions that stick

Gheko Health makes everyday solutions that stick. Zarei says that while existing products are overpriced, ineffective, and lack longevity, he and his team aim to produce devices that enhance the quality of life of peripheral neuropathy patients and achieve the optimal balance between low cost and durability.

“We want to provide something for people with health afflictions that doesn’t interfere with their normal life,” says Zarei.

With a desire to positively impact others, Zarei says he wants to use his biomedical engineering and medical studies to make solutions available to the public.

“Not everyone has the skill set and resources to come up with affordable medical devices that can be used in everyday situations,” says Zarei. “We draw inspiration from what we see in the community and hospital and want to provide a direct, simple solution for people with health afflictions.” The glove will help people who have suffered from diabetes, stroke, ALS, and other peripheral neuropathies.

Pitching a passion

Participating in IMIG and founding Gheko Health sparked Zarei’s interest in entrepreneurship.

“What’s exciting is the fact that anyone with an idea can pursue it and bring it to fruition,” he says. “It’s nice to know that, as a student, you have the independence to work on something you are passionate about and take it in the direction you want.”

Zarei’s passion for helping others has paid off. Gheko Health was first pitched at the 2017 Business Model Competition, where they were awarded $2,000. They also competed in the 2017 Rose Francis Elevator Pitch Competition.

“I went up there and tried to be natural and spontaneous about it,” he says. “It’s something I’m passionate about and believe in.” Gheko Health was awarded a total of $5,500.

As of now, the grip-assisting glove is the only product Gheko Health is focused on. They are currently working with a manufacturer to produce larger volumes of their prototype and hope to commercialize and expand into retail settings.

“I think entrepreneurship is for everyone, you just have to constantly be aware of unmet needs and come up with something that meets those needs,” says Zarei. “It’s really great to be able to take ownership of something and know it can provide value where there wasn’t any before.”