published Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Chattanooga company's device targets back pain

Back pain sufferers across the globe could be thanking a Chattanooga company in the coming months.

Hollywog, a seven-person medical equipment startup on Amnicola Highway, starts domestic distribution of its one-of-a-kind back pain relief product next week and will begin worldwide distribution in the next two months.

Government regulators approved the WiTouch and the WiTouch Pro earlier this week, and the devices soon will appear at chiropractor and physical therapy offices and independent drugstores.

"We have a large demand right away for the U.S. market," said Hollywog President Chuck Thomas. "We already have orders from distributors in Europe and the Middle East."

The WiTouch devices are computer shells flanked by two silicone wings. The wings adhere to a user's lower back under their clothes and deliver electric pulses, helping block a user's pain without taking drugs.

The basic WiTouch, usable only on the lower back, will be available over the counter for less than $150. The WiTouch Pro is for use on the lower and upper back and will be covered by some insurance plans, but will require a prescription.

The technology for these devices has existed for years, but has been confined largely to therapists' offices because of its bulky design and obtrusive wires. Thomas said the WiTouch will be the first wireless, wearable device back-pain suffers can wear and use all day.

These products are to be the first of several rehabilitation and pain management products Hollywog plans to launch in the next year, Thomas said.

In the three years since its founding, the company already has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of top-of-the-line electrodes.

Before founding Hollywog, Thomas was the vice president of sales and marketing for the medical manufacturer Chattanooga Group.

Two years after the company was bought in 2007 by DJO Global Inc., Thomas founded his own company with some other Chattanooga Group pros.

"For a small startup, we have probably the most experienced staff globally for product development and marketing," Thomas said. "I was real fortunate to be able to have them come work directly for Hollywog."

Thomas believes that experience puts Hollywog in a great position to grow rapidly.

The WiTouches have moved from conceptualization to production in two and a half years and are ready to hit international markets quickly. The company has the manufacturing capacity to easily scale up production if demand takes off.

"We have no bottlenecks as far as tooling," he said. "It's very easy for us to ramp up our production with just hiring."

Thomas said the WiTouch will be available for purchase on Hollywog's distributor's site, CoreProducts.com, in the coming weeks. For more information on WiTouch or Hollywog, visit the company's website, Hollywog.com.

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