Development and commercialisation of a range of medical devices that stimulate improved blood circulation and improve general health.
Submitting InstitutionLondon South Bank University
Unit of AssessmentSport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism
Summary Impact TypeTechnological
Research Subject Area(s)
Medical and Health Sciences: Cardiorespiratory Medicine and Haematology, Neurosciences
Summary of the impact
Research carried out by the SESRC has resulted in the development of
three novel devices that improve foot and lower limb circulation. These
have been commercialised by Actegy Health Ltd.
Since 2008, impact arising
from this research includes,
- successful product efficacy trials satisfying Advertising Standards
- filing of three patent applications;
- generation of total revenues of £53M of which in 2012 two thirds were
- created 22 direct jobs with significantly more indirect jobs in
manufacturing, logistics and marketing;
- a Red Dot Good Design international award in 2012;
- recognition of Actegy Ltd as a Sunday Times fast track 100 company in
both 2010(4th) and 2011(17th).
This impact case study is underpinned by research carried out in the
Sports and Exercise Science Research Centre (SESRC) at London South Bank
University since 2001 and which continues. The research was undertaken by
Drs Paul Sumners (Research Fellow, 2003 to date), Katya Mileva (Senior
Research Fellow, 2001 to date) and Joanna Bowtell (Senior Lecturer, 1999 -
left LSBU in 2011).
The SESRC researchers have developed a considerable body of scientific
knowledge and expertise in physiological effects of electro-mechanical
interventions including electrical (1, 2), vibratory (3, 4) and magnetic
(4) stimulation. This has enabled the addition of novel research and
development programmes for improving human physical activity and health.
Research since 2001 using noxious and innocuous electrical nerve
stimulation demonstrated close coupling between muscle activation and
joint kinetics and kinematics via spinal reflex modulation (1). In 2008,
experiments were undertaken to determine the potential of novel electrical
stimulation parameters (1ms pulse width) to engage central neural circuits
and increase stability and structural integrity of the foot. The research
demonstrated potentiated intrinsic foot muscle activation and acute
beneficial impact from electrical foot stimulation on the coordination of
foot structures during subsequent movement (2).
These findings imply a potential for increased movement range and
enhanced plantar-venous plexus function thus producing an increased venous
ejection volume from the foot and calf structures. Enhanced muscle oxygen
dynamics and oxidative energy metabolism were also found during voluntary
exercises with superimposed vibration (3).Prolonged voluntary (5) and
vibration- evoked (4) muscle activity was also found to produce
significant modulation of the corticospinal excitability and the
peripheral excitatory and contractile processes.
This knowledge has enabled the development of novel technological
approaches for stimulation of the peripheral sensory receptors that could
be used during activity to improve exercise performance by simultaneously
enhancing muscle excitation, perfusion and oxygenation (3).
Building up from these results, the SESRC undertook a novel experimental
programme to investigate the effects of innocuous foot plantar surface
electrical stimulation on lower limb blood flow and swelling. In 2011 the
potential of this novel intervention to alleviate peripheral circulatory
deficits and associated pain and discomfort was compared to that of mild
voluntary contractions in a series of randomized controlled trials
utilising Doppler Ultrasound, Laser Doppler Flowmetry, Near-Infrared
Spectroscopy and Opto-electric Volumetry.
The findings demonstrated enhanced venous outflow and tissue perfusion,
improved muscle oxygenation and reduced swelling in healthy participants
with induced venous insufficiency via 40 minutes of immobility (6). These
factors had not previously been systematically investigated utilising foot
plantar surface stimulation.
Based upon these findings further experiments were designed to devise
approaches for enhanced physiological efficiency via improvements to the
existing plantar surface stimulation technology.
The research has demonstrated that:
- incorporation of a rocking mechanism to allow ankle movement during
stimulation leads to an increased venous ejection volume and more
natural movement patterns.
- stimulation with wider pulses allows lower stimulation intensities to
be used to achieve efficient muscle activation similar to voluntary
- incorporating longer rest periods between evoked contractions allows
an increased efficiency of the muscle pump, enhanced venous return and
improved tissue oxygenation.
References to the research
1. Mileva K., Green, D.A. and Turner, D.L. (2004). Neuromuscular and
biomechanical coupling in human cycling: Modulation of cutaneous reflex
responses to sural nerve stimulation. Exp Brain Res, 158(4):
2. James, D., Chesters, T., Sumners, D., Cook, D., Green, D., &
Mileva, K. (2013). Wide- Pulse Electrical Stimulation to an Intrinsic Foot
Muscle Induces Acute Functional Changes in Forefoot-Rearfoot Coupling
Behaviour during Walking. IntJSportsMed, 34(5), 438-43.
3. Mileva, K., Naleem, A.A., Biswas, S. K., Bowtell, J.L. (2006). Acute
Effects of a Vibration- like Stimulus during Knee Extension Exercise. MedSciSportsExerc
4. Mileva, K.N., Bowtell, J.L., Kossev, A.R., (2009). Effects of low
frequency whole body vibration on motor evoked potentials in healthy men.
5. Mileva, K.N., Sumners, D.P., Bowtell, J.L., Decline in voluntary
activation contributes to reduced maximal performance of fatigued human
lower limb muscles. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Dec; 112(12):3959-70.
6. Mileva K.N., James, D., Hunter, S., Zaidell, L., (2011). Circulation
Booster™: Investigation of the effects of transcutaneous electrical foot
stimulation on the peripheral macro- and micro-circulation. Research
report to Actegy Health Ltd (report available on request from LSBU).
Details of the impact
Poor circulation is an increasing health problem in clinical (eg
diabetics, peripheral vascular disease) and non-clinical groups (eg.
obesity, pregnancy, high alcohol consumption and frequent long-haul flying
(economy class syndrome)). Worldwide an estimated 30 million people across
all age groups suffer with peripheral vascular disease, with over 100,000
people newly diagnosed each year in the UK alone. Many more people are
estimated to suffer from chronic venous insufficiency due to lifestyle
factors. Current treatment regimens rely on pharmaceutical and compression
therapies or surgical interventions, with highly variable efficacy and
demand on health-care resources.
SESRC's research has led to the development and subsequent retail of a
range of improved circulation boosters (Revitive™ range) for and by Actegy
Ltd, a health device company based in Ascot.
In 2006, Actegy approached the SESRC to explore the possibility of it
marketing and selling a breathing device (YouBreathe) invented and
developed by the SESRC. As a result of this interaction, Actegy became
aware of the SESRC's expertise and knowledge in electro-mechanical
stimulation. In 2008, Actegy awarded the SESRC funding to evaluate the
physiological efficacy and performance of its Circulation Booster product
in order to provide scientific evidence to update and defend its
physiological performance claims. Actegy was able to provide sufficient
evidence to Advertising Standards Agency reviewers to justify the claimed
performance benefits (1) and to continue trading.
The results identified the opportunity to materially improve product
performance and to identify clinical indications such as diabetes. As a
consequence, in 2008, Actegy commissioned the SESRC to undertake a product
development programme aimed at expanding the range of advanced circulation
products based upon its current Circulation Booster technology. By 2011,
the SESRC's work had led to three differentiated products which Actegy
subsequently had manufactured and launched under its Revitive™ range (2).
The IsoRocker, WidePulse and On/Off ratio technologies developed by the
SESRC deliver a more natural user experience than comparable competitor
products. Patents applications on all three products were applied for by
Actegy during 2013 with SESRC staff named as inventors (3, 4, 5).
The new innovations are user focussed and improve the user experience.
The IsoRocker increases circulation and gives greater comfort during use.
The Wide-Pulse stimulation reduces the required voltage making the device
safer to use. The On/Off ratios product increase circulation with each
"pump" of the muscles.
Since 2008, and as a direct result of the SESRC's work, Actegy has (6):
- Progressed from a single to a multi-product brand built around the
Revitive range, with enhanced marketing collateral;
- Built a patent portfolio for its range of circulation boosters. Actegy
had no Intellectual Property prior to its engagement with the SESRC;
- Evolved from an on-line retailer to a medical device manufacturing
- Become the market leader in the circulation booster product category
with sales over the period 2008-2012 of £53.1M;
- Generated net profits of £1.32M on sales of £16.3M in its most recent
audited accounts in 2012;
- Expanded its sales in overseas territories from zero in 2008 to £10.5M
- Created 22 direct new jobs with significantly more indirect jobs in
manufacturing, distribution and marketing;
- Won a Red Dot Good Design international award in 2012 for Revitive IX
- Been recognised for two consecutive years (2010 (4th) and
2011 (17th)) as one of the fastest growing companies in the
Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list, one of only 2 companies to remain in
the top 20 for two consecutive years (2).
A Director of Actegy has stated that: "the collaboration with LSBU
continues to enable us to differentiate our products and allow us to enter
new markets" (6).
A leading consultant cardiovascular surgeon has commented "We have
used Revitive and have found that it is very effective at stimulating
the muscles of the feet and lower legs, causing a very good increase in
blood flow. I am so impressed that I will be using it myself" (8).
There are many positive testimonials to the benefits of Revitive on
social and commercial web sites. For example, Sir Steve Redgrave is quoted
on the Boots web site extolling the value of Revitive (8) and a Type 2
diabetic posted on Amazon that "the Revitive IX Circulation Booster
feels as though it really does me a lot of good in terms of maintaining
good circulation in my feet and ankles, and, my ankles no longer swell"
The relationship between Actegy and the SESRC continues to this day with
total contract research and consultancy awards of £239,000 to the SESRC up
to 31st July 2013. The Head of the SESRC is currently a
consultant to Actegy to advise and guide on the clinical trials of its
RevitiveIX circulation booster, which will allow the product to achieve
510K FDA Certification, allowing the device to be sold as a medical device
in the US and other countries.
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Contact: Director, Actegy Ltd
- Patent Application No. for : Isorocker - WO2013024241
- Patent Application No. for : Wide-Pulse and On/Off - WO2013150257
- Patent Application No. for : Conditioning Pulse - WO2013144544
- Independent Consultant's (The Innovation Partnership) Report, 2013 —
Contact: Managing Director, The Innovation Partnership. Report covers an
interview with a Director of Actegy Ltd on the SESRC's involvement and
contribution to Actegy's development and performance post 2008.