Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Jan Gambino Health Guide

  • Everyone deals with adversity in different ways. Some people become paralyzed with worry and anxiety, while others see adversity as a challenge and channel all of their energy into dealing with the situation at hand. I have had the opportunity to meet a few brave and talented parents who rose to the challenge of taking care of a baby or child with reflux. In addition to meeting the day-to-day needs of their own child, they used the experience to invent a product that helps other parents and children.

    Terry Jarrett, maker of the Tucker Sling

    I saw Terry Jarrett of Tucker Designs, LTD recently at a conference. She showed me pictures of her son Keith, now a tall, handsome high school senior, and I heard about her struggles after Hurricane Katrina wiped out her house and her business. But Terry is like the Energizer Bunny--she just keeps going. When her son struggled with severe gastroesophageal reflux as a baby, she didn’t just take care of him; she sat down at her sewing machine and made him a wedge and a sling to hold him upright. This home-made solution to her son’s positioning needs lead to the birth of Tucker Designs, maker of the Tucker Sling. Terry gets orders from parents and hospitals around the world. She has helped countless babies sleep and digest. When Hurricane Katrina struck, Terry moved her company and her family out of state and she made sure the company continued operating. It has been a terrible burden to recover from the devastation, but Terry and her company know how to meet the challenges.
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    Kenny Kramm, inventor of FLAVORx

    FLAVORx is a medical flavoring system that changes the flavor of over-the-counter and prescription medication and it has been used to flavor over 60 million prescriptions in the last 10 years. Kenny Kramm was inspired to start the company when his youngest daughter Hadley was born with a seizure disorder and cerebral palsy. Kenny told me

    The medicine that was so crucial to her existence was intolerable to her and made it impossible for her to take. My family was in the hospital repeatedly because Hadley was not getting the medication she so desperately needed and would start having seizures. My father and I owned a pharmacy and knew that flavoring medicine had been done for hundreds of years just never in any sort of systematic way. So we took Hadley's Phenobarbital and some concentrated candy flavorings and started to work with them to see if they could make the medicine palatable enough for her to swallow. We tried different concentrated flavorings, and finally after several weeks we found that Hadley would accept the banana flavor, and although she didn’t love taking her medication, she took it without complaint. This was the start of FLAVORx.

    I know that many of the medications used to treat reflux have unpleasant flavors or have to be compounded (changed from a tablet to a liquid and then flavored) before given to an infant or toddler. The company has a phenomenal choice of flavors for even the pickiest refluxer.

  • Margaret Pressler, maker of the BurpCatcher
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    Margaret Pressler, founder of Williamboy Products and creator of BurpCatcher , dealt with the aftermath of spit up and vomiting and decided enough was enough. She was going to find a way to make this messy situation a bit more tolerable for parents and caretakers. Margaret said, “When I created BurpCatcher for my third child, I no longer had to clean spit up off my clothes, the floor or furniture, giving me more time to enjoy my baby. I knew I had to bring my idea to other moms and caregivers everywhere.” According to the Web site, “BurpCatcher’s patent-pending design offers the protection and peace of mind that conventional burp cloths can’t. No matter what position a baby is in, BurpCatcher’s innovative pocket hangs open just the right way to catch the spit up every time.”

    Horacio Rubio, maker of the Comfy Lift Bed

    The Comfy Lift Bed was invented by Horacio Rubio of the Positional Therapy Pillow Company. While he does not have a child with reflux, he was inspired by a little girl named Julia. Julia struggled to sleep due to respiratory and reflux issues. Her parents asked Mr. Rubio to design a product that would elevate her while she slept and prevent her from slipping down on the bed. As a result, Mr. Rubio created the ComfyLiftBed and, as a result, he has helped many infants and children get the rest they need. And we all know, if the little refluxer is sleeping, we can get some much needed rest too!

    I am grateful to these inventors for using their creativity and skill to ease the burden of caretaking and to help refluxers eat, sleep and digest.

Published On: January 25, 2007