Necessity was the mother of invention when Ross O’Keefe came up with his self-therapy device called the Nexxbar.
While working as a lease co-ordinator and heavy equipment operator in Western Canada, the Kilbride native was dealing with chronic pain in his neck and shoulders.
On one night, when painkillers and other methods of self-myofascial release weren’t doing anything to relieve the tightness and pain, inspiration struck. He picked up an old bat, looped a belt around one end and proceeded to use the leverage to work on his aching muscles.
“Within days, because I was able to do it so often, I was crushing the knots out of my neck. The headaches were gone,” recounts O’Keefe.
“The incremental treatment you can give yourself daily eliminates the chronic problems because you’re constantly working the soft tissue.”
At first he figured there must be an existing product on the market, but a thorough search yielded nothing that came close.
“All of the stuff that was out there was not taking advantage of your biomechanics, it was just using a stationary object to get leverage,” O’Keefe says. “Not only that, they were all just one-trick ponies.”
Back in Newfoundland, O’Keefe began tinkering, had a prototype developed and, in an effort to get more leverage, jury-rigged an old hockey elbow pad to hook on to one end.
“And it worked great,” he says.
O’Keefe showed the product to Mike Shelley at Bodyworks Fitness and Physiotherapy, and to Proactive Physiotherapy’s Chris Cluett, both of whom have since become partners.
In doing so, O’Keefe says, he truly began to understand the Nexxbar’s versatility.
“I knew the lower back and the upper back was good, but I wasn’t sure how to access the mid-back,” he says. “It took months of playing with it, repositioning myself to really figure it all out because they said there’s a lot more to this. They said it could be a whole body thing.
“Everything about it seemed to be the missing link to what’s out there today and the way things have been done.”
You might think physiotherapists wouldn’t endorse a device that actually keeps clients away from the clinic, but O’Keefe insists it’s just the opposite.
“They don’t see it affecting their business, they see it as an enhancement, especially for seniors.
“Their logic is there’s not enough physiotherapists or occupational therapists to begin with for the amount of demand. This way, they can actually have more clients through the Nexxbar app where they can do online consultation.”
At nexxbar.com, O’Keefe and his partners have set up a treatment centre featuring dozens of videos instructing both regular users as well as health care professionals on how to target key areas and muscle groups. The same instructional videos are also available on the Nexxbar app.
“You really become a master of your own anatomy after a while, and it doesn’t take long. It’s a matter of weeks,” says O’Keefe.
“The recuperative and maintenance value of this is huge.”