08 Sep The father who inspired the M+D Crutch
At Mobility Designed, our mission is to make crutch-assisted mobility comfortable and functional for everyone who uses mobility assistance. But there is one important man who gave our co-founder the idea to create the M+D Crutch in the first place.
As an article in Fast Company describes it:
When our co-founder, Max Younger, was a child, his dad, Dan, was always on crutches. A serious childhood injury meant that his father was constantly in-and-out of the hospital, getting surgeries and knee replacements. “They caused irritation, bruising, and nerve damage in his hands,” Max remembers. “He was never one to complain, but you could see it, and if you asked, he’d tell you.”
After years of seeing his dad on and off crutches, Younger–an industrial design student working at Hallmark–started noodling in his spare time on a design that would help his father deal with the wrist and arm pain that come from extended crutch use. Then Max got a call–his father had a staph infection. The leg had to be amputated. Dan would be on crutches for the rest of his life. So Max teamed up with his wife, Liliana, to found Mobility Designed, a company that wants to bring crutch design into the Space Age with its first product, the M+D Crutch.
Ultimately, the biggest testament to the superior design of the M+D Crutch is probably the man it was built for, Max’s father Dan Younger. “With Max’s crutches, my wrists and shoulders aren’t as fatigued,” he says. “Every day tasks are much easier. I can walk farther and easier without getting tired.”
And that’s been crucial as in addition to Max’s dad, Dan also became a grandpa a few years after his amputation. He embraced the role of “Papa” whole-heartedly, even taking on childcare for his two grandsons, August and Oliver.
Every weekday, Dan picks up his grandkids from school and daycare, and “we just play,” he said — mostly with Legos, August’s favorite toy. They also enjoy swimming and taking walks together with grandma Robin (or as the boys call her, Bobin).
Before Robin retired, Dan was the sole babysitter for August. “I never even thought about it,” Dan said. “I wasn’t working; [parents Max and Liliana] were needing a babysitter. I didn’t know if I would do it, because I haven’t had that kind of responsibility in years. I kind of got the rhythm of it, though. Now I can’t imagine not doing it — it’s the best, absolutely the best.”
Dan, who underwent an above-the-knee amputation in 2008, wears a prosthetic leg and utilizes the M+D Crutch® when needed to keep up with his energetic grandsons. “It was scary in the beginning,” Dan said. “When you have two legs, you have leverage. As an amputee, you fall a lot. I did for a while. The hardest part was getting used to holding a baby when you can’t feel or see one of your limbs.”
Dan was only 14-years-old when he had his first knee surgery. Before becoming a semi-permanent crutch user, he had been on and off crutches. He’s had to be constantly aware of his surroundings, as to not lose his balance.
Now that August is older, he’s become more mindful, too. “He understands that he can’t run away from me,” Dan said. “If we take a walk, he’ll have to wait for me, or Robin will have to go ahead so she can keep up with him. He understands I can’t jump; I can’t run.”
But Dan doesn’t let his disability limit his daily life. While Robin worked, Dan looked after their kids, and when he started to babysit August, he knew he’d find a way to do all of the things he needed to again, like changing diapers and cooking meals. There was a slight learning curve, but even with one leg, Dan said the second time around was easier, mainly because of the tools he has available.
“I had been used to traditional crutches essentially my whole life — my shoulders hurt; my wrists hurt,” he said. Still, “If I don’t have my leg on, I have to be on crutches.” Dan’s experience with axillary crutches is what inspired his son, Max, to develop the M+D Crutch, a mobility device that uses the forearms and elbows instead of hands, wrists and armpits to support users’ body weight. Over the years,
Dan helped Max fine tune the M+D Crutch before launch in 2016.
“I had a voice that was true to what [Max] needed,” Dan said. “I was someone that actually had to use the crutches. Everyone who uses them has a different reason or different goals. I was only representing one version of that.”
For Dan, and likely for many others, one of his goals was to move around more comfortably, especially when chasing after toddlers. “It’s a much better tool,” Dan said of the M+D Crutch. “It gives me less pain, less intrusion. I don’t have to think about it as much. You have to learn how to use it, because it’s a different mindset, but it’s so much easier.”
Dan utilizes the M+D Crutch mostly in the mornings and evenings and when he heads to the pool with August and Oliver. Recently, Dan’s family went to Disney World and walked over 13 miles over the course of three days. By the end of each day, “I’m ready to put on the crutches,” Dan said. “They’re just a part of my life — I can’t imagine not having them. I can’t imagine where things would be.”