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HSS and SEI Partner to Design Athletic Footwear Technology to Minimize Injury Risk and Enhance Sports Performance

World-leading orthopedic hospital lends clinical expertise to design process in effort to enhance sports safety for all

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS)—consistently ranked number one in orthopedics globally by Newsweek and nationally by U.S. News & World Report—today announced a strategic partnership with sports innovation company Sports Engineering, Inc. (SEI) to develop technology for athletic footwear that would seek to reduce the risk of injury. This first-of-its-kind alliance combines the unparalleled expertise of HSS’s orthopedic clinicians, many of whom treat top professional and elite athletes around the world, with SEI’s expertise in the design and product development space as it relates to sports performance wear.

Millions of ankle and knee injuries occur each year, many as a result of the abrupt movements that are common among athletes. Today, conventional athletic shoes are primarily designed to support vertical movement with cushioning. Most athletic shoes on the market lack the ability to absorb shock from horizontal or rotational forces created by the shoe’s impact against the playing surface during movements such as cutting or pivoting, which can increase risk of injury. To help reduce and ultimately eliminate the potential for injury caused by these types of movements as well as repetitive stress, SEI has developed two technologies, the Smart SpringTM and Split SoleTM, that HSS is currently researching and validating to ensure an optimized product for consumer use.

“As a leader in musculoskeletal health, HSS has been driving innovation in foot, ankle and knee safety to reduce the risk of lower extremity injuries,” said Mark C. Drakos, MD, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in disorders of the foot and ankle and assistant team orthopedist for the New York Knicks. “Our collaboration with SEI is a major opportunity to expand our reach in pioneering new sports safety standards in athletic footwear to improve the well-being of everyday active people who want to perform their best.”

To date, HSS has begun to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Smart SpringTM and Split SoleTM technologies and how well they address the various injury types they are designed to prevent, such as ACL tears, medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints) and other knee, muscle and ligament strains and sprains. Beyond these initial concepts, HSS and SEI intend to explore other technologies to help minimize injury risk. 

“Our longstanding relationship with HSS has laid the groundwork to position change driven by science within the athletic footwear industry,” said Dan Richard, SEI president. “We will collaborate with HSS on a rigorous safety validation process to test and evaluate our patented technology that will be applied in footwear, equipment and accessories.” 

“The HSS Innovation Institute played a central role in establishing the strategic relationship, bringing together the complimentary skills and competencies of HSS and SEI that have the potential to drive innovation in sports safety,” said Doug Leach, vice president for device innovation at HSS. The HSS Innovation Institute is singularly focused on advancing the field of musculoskeletal care by managing and commercializing the HSS portfolio of novel concepts, inventions, and partnerships.

HSS will be using human subject testing combined with high-accuracy robotic simulation to perform physical assessments of the technology. By utilizing the state-of-the-art Motion Analysis Lab at HSS, clinicians will use 3D motion to capture data tied to joint motion and contact loads when subjects are performing tasks like change-of-direction maneuvers, dynamic run-stop-jump and cutting motions.

This partnership between HSS and SEI has the potential to impact safety across a number of court and field sports for athletes at all levels, including but not limited to basketball, football, soccer and more, while also enhancing safety for those simply looking for better athletic shoes.  

About SEI

SEI is a performance technology company that has expertise in identifying, developing, and commercializing disruptive inventions primarily in the field of sports. Using its portfolio of load management technologies, SEI focuses on developing and licensing innovative footwear (including footwear applying its proprietary SplitSoleTM technology), non-footwear athletic performance products, and protective sports equipment, in each case, intended to help prevent musculoskeletal injuries.

About HSS

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the 14th consecutive year), No. 2 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2023-2024), and the best pediatric orthopedic hospital in NY, NJ and CT by U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list (2023-2024). In a survey of medical professionals in more than 20 countries by Newsweek, HSS is ranked world #1 in orthopedics for a fourth consecutive year (2023). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has the lowest readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics, and among the lowest infection and complication rates. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center five consecutive times. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State, as well as in Florida. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. In addition, more than 200 HSS clinical investigators are working to improve patient outcomes through better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat orthopedic, rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. The HSS Innovation Institute works to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, academic trainees, and consumers in more than 165 countries. The institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.