BISHOP Knee Brace
Eric Rippetoe finds a way for the right fit
In 1990, a young Ken Epperson Jr. was stationed at Fort Campbell, along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The Shreveport native – training for deployment to fight in Operation Desert Storm – was excited to be the next in a long line of family members who had been in the military.
“I was ready to go anywhere to serve my country, to do anything, no questions asked,” Epperson said.
Epperson and his unit would run at least four miles five days a week. But on this day, as part of their physical training, the commander called an audible – a flag football game.
“I was running the ball. The ground was wet. A guy tried to tackle me, and he fell on the outside of my left leg, which popped it inward. That’s what tore the ligament.”
A torn medial meniscus, to be exact. Surgery meant Epperson would not be going overseas – this time. During the rest of his military career, Epperson went to places like Panama and Germany. But the physical toll on his injured knee made things worse. A militaryissued brace didn’t help.
“They offer you small, medium and large,” Epperson said. “I’ve been described as an average guy. I guess I’m in between a medium and a large. They never fit right. The medium is too tight, and the large is too big.”
But a few months ago, Epperson – the owner of a cleaning business – had a chance meeting with someone. Turns out, that “someone” is a physical therapist. Epperson spoke of his years-long knee problems. Before long, Epperson was wearing a custom-made knee brace.
“It fits like a glove,” Epperson said. The physical therapist is Eric Rippetoe, PT, DPT, who has developed the BISHOP knee brace. The Captain High School graduate (2003) custom makes each brace using three-dimensional printing.
In other words, Rippetoe has come up with a solution to a problem he comes across all too often.
“As a PT, we obviously see people coming off knee surgeries all the time,” Rippetoe said. “Every patient had the same complaint about their knee brace – that it wouldn’t stay in place. Our legs are basically shaped like upside-down traffic cones, so it’s a little difficult to anchor anything that stays in place on the knee.”
While Rippetoe has years of medical training – he graduated from LSU and received his doctorate in PT from LSU Health Shreveport – he had to learn a lot about computers. That was a necessity for him to develop the BISHOP. (In chess, the bishop is a support piece that protects the queen. Rippetoe’s product provides support for one of the body’s most important and vulnerable joints.)
“I needed some of my specialized knowledge of anatomy to make (a brace) more comfortable, avoid things like hamstring injuries, and line up the joint in the proper place,” Rippetoe said. “But once you have that, it’s all technology. … 3-D printing is its own mountain to climb. There’s so much information in order to be able to do this well, and do it consistently. You really have to invest yourself in three or four distinct areas to be able to create (the brace).”
Rippetoe is meeting with orthopedic doctors to discuss how the BISHOP can benefit their patients. One doctor who is “sold” on the BISHOP is Patrick Massey, an orthopedic surgeon at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport.
“These braces offer a custom option that is shaped to the patient’s knee,” Massey said. “Traditional braces can be measured, and different sizes are available. But, these 3D braces are more precisely fitted to a patient’s knee in a custom way.”
Rippetoe was introduced to one of Dr. Massey’s patients. The result was a success story that, for Rippetoe, has special meaning.
“We had a gentleman who was working under a pick-up truck when it slipped off the jack and crushed his legs,” Rippetoe said. “This
gentleman lost his right leg, but they were able to save his left leg. He’s had so many surgeries over the past three years, his left leg is horribly deformed. … His knee brace, because it was made for a boilerplate leg, cut into him so bad that he had a softball-sized knot of flesh hanging out. So much so, that I thought he had a tumor.”
In 36 hours, the patient was wearing a BISHOP.
“I was able to scan his leg and make a brace that perfectly fit him, and relieve a tremendous amount of discomfort from him. When I show doctors the image of his leg with the knee brace on, they understand immediately just how powerful having something that perfectly fits all contours – even those for horribly deformed legs – it really drives home the point of why this product exits.”
To learn more about the BISHOP knee brace, you may visit www.mybishop.net.