World-first Indigenous innovation a breath of fresh air

Patients suffering respiratory conditions can now breathe a little easier thanks to a clever, world-first innovation developed and manufactured in Queensland. 

Developed by Logan-based Physiotherapy Innovations, the Therabubble is a specially designed medical device that clears airways via positive expiratory pressure (PEP) and vibrations to patients suffering from respiratory conditions.

We sat down with founder Kathryn Potter to chat about how the idea first came about and how their recent Ignite Ideas Fund grant will assist their future growth.

Physiotherapy Innovations Founder Kathryn Potter.

Can you tell us what your business does?

Physiotherapy Innovations proudly supplies Therabubble™, an airway clearance device to help clear the lungs and improve ventilation, to hospitals and health services around Australia and New Zealand.

How did the business begin?

After watching how bubble PEP was being administered to patients, I thought there had to be a more modern and dignified alternative (rather than make-shift options using plastic bottles and tubing not designed for purpose). That’s when I engaged with fellow physiotherapist Rebecca Houweling to design Therabubble™, the modern bubble positive pressure expiratory (PEP) device.

What problem did you set out to address?

Prior to Therabubble™, Bubble PEP or bottle PEP was provided as a make-shift device which involved therapists using bottles and tubing that were not intended for respiratory therapy.

Our aim was to provide an affordable and accessible airway clearance device that maintained the dignity of the patients.

Also, as a global health issue, rates of respiratory disease for Indigenous peoples are higher than those of their non-Indigenous counterparts. As an Indigenous business, Physiotherapy Innovations is a huge advocate for Indigenous health, and we aim to continue to be able to give back to Indigenous communities not only in Australia, but also around the world.

What will this Ignite Ideas funding allow you to do?

We’re already servicing hospitals and health practices in Australia and New Zealand, but the Ignite Ideas funding will allow us to execute our plans for larger scale global export. This will enable us to help as many people as possible with improved breathing, at an affordable price.

We will also continue to improve the current product as well as provide adjunct products and services to the market.

The first project is in its final stages and Therabubble™ will soon be available outside of Australia and New Zealand. The new Therabubble™ websites will be launched early in 2021 to reflect this growth and support commercialisation.

With your successful Ignite Ideas funding, do you envisage growing the number of employees?

Physiotherapy Innovations currently employs six people, with more than 30 percent recognising as Aboriginal people.

With the Ignite Ideas funding, Physiotherapy Innovations hopes to expand the team within the first 12 months of global commercialisation, including roles in administration, sales, warehouse management and management.

Who are your customers?

Our primary customers are the hospital and health services who require support to provide airway clearance therapy for their patients. These customers range from small to large hospitals, public and private sectors and from metropolitan to remote locations.

We also support the primary health services such as GPs, physiotherapy clinics, pulmonary rehabilitation services and pharmacies.

We want to make sure our product is not only affordable but that it is also accessible. Therefore, the end user is also able to jump on-line and purchase a Therabubble™

A patient using the Therabubble.

How will your customers benefit from this opportunity?

Around the world, the percentage of the population requiring support for their respiratory needs is consistent with approximately 10 percent of the population suffering from chronic respiratory disease. Many people may also be prescribed Therabubble™ for short term respiratory conditions without underlying chronic respiratory conditions. Therefore, our customers — health service providers through to r health service consumers — will benefit from the affordable, accessible and efficient Therabubble™ for their respiratory intervention. The use of Therabubble™ will allow for earlier hospital discharge and help to reduce the risk of admissions for those with chronic respiratory illness if they are able to continue their management at home.

What do you see as the advantages of being an entrepreneur in Queensland?

Queensland has a great community of start-ups and innovators, and Physiotherapy Innovations is proud to be a part of this.

There is a lot of energy and support in this area, which really drives the growth of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). We really enjoy being active in supporting and giving back to the local community.

Physiotherapy Innovations are one of more than 50 Queensland businesses to share in more than $6.5 million from Round 5 of the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund. Visit the website to find out how the Advance Queensland initiative can help grow your business.

Therabubble and COVID-19

COVID-19 has had a considerable impact across the globe.

During this time, Physiotherapy Innovations has kept their finger on the pulse and were successful in their application for a COVID-19 support grant which will allow them to conduct further research and development of their products and services.

The grant will help the business to provide a broader range of products and services to meet client's changing needs and will be rolled-out nationally and internationally as the world continues to adapt to the effects of COVID-19.

Last updated 24 Nov, 2020
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0) ( )

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