After suffering wrist pain for years, local man creates product and launches business
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IDAHO FALLS — Paul Crockett sat at a computer for 8-10 hours a day for 17 years. Prolonged use of a mouse on a hard surface in an angled position began to take its toll and started causing him physical discomfort.
Three years ago, Crockett began to experience severe pain in his wrist.
“I was getting to where I couldn’t even bend my wrist to put my fork in my mouth,” Crockett tells EastIdahoNews.com. “When I went to bed or sat on my comfortable chair, I could rest my arm (while using a mouse) and it didn’t really hurt, but when I would rest it on my desk, it was very quickly inflamed.”
The inflammation became so bad he was forced to jimmy-rig a foam pad to rest his wrist at work just to get through the day. It was hard to drive and he was wearing a brace all the time.
“The braces were a pain because they put unnecessary pressure in certain places. If you move a little, you kink in some places, so it was a painful time,” Crockett says.
Wanting to avoid carpal tunnel surgery at all costs, he began looking for an alternative solution. That’s when he came up with a product that eventually led to the launch of his e-commerce business called Loftmat.
“The product is a cushioned-top mouse pad. Instead of just a standard rubber mousepad, its actually got a foam-cushioned top. It sounds kind of funny at first, but it’s very usable,” says Crockett.
Spending many hours a day using a mouse on a hard surface is really hard on the wrist joint, Crockett says, and his mouse pad is designed to bring the wrist into a more neutral resting position that relieves pressure in areas where the joint is prone to damage.
“There’s a proper way to sit and a proper arm distance and chair height. Those things have to be adjusted in order to accomplish a perfect scenario,” Crockett says. “Posture does help, but the problem is we’re lazy. You’re going to (have improper form) when you sit because that is just reality. This (mouse pad) is going to soften up some of the pressure points that would actually cause damage.”
Crockett experienced immediate relief when he first started using his mouse pad and over time, it’s helped him eliminate pain and saved him hundreds of dollars on carpal tunnel surgery. Though the product was born as a way to alleviate pain, he says the products are not necessarily designed for that, but do have benefits for everyone.
“It’s not that the mouse pad is going to heal you. It’s not a miracle item,” Paul’s wife, Stefanie, says. “But it sets you on a trajectory to healing.”
Stefanie has been fully involved in developing and marketing the products, and after using the product herself, says she’ll never go back to a standard mouse pad.
“Even though I don’t have wrist pain and am not using it for the purpose of healing something, it’s just making my work environment much more comfortable and inviting,” says Stefanie.
Crockett has spent the last several years refining the manufacturing process and getting it patented. The mouse pad comes in several different sizes and since then he’s also developed a keyboard mat, full desk mat and gaming mat.
“It’s fairly complex to make,” Crockett says. “This is a four-layered, laminated, stitched piece of material. We made all that because there is a need for it.”
The Crocketts launched a website two weeks ago where the products are sold. Prices for a mousepad range from $20 to $46, depending on the size. The keyboard mats are $20 and a full desk mat is $75.
“People spend so much time in a bed and invest thousands of dollars into a mattress,” Stefanie says. “We spend an equal amount of time at work every day throwing our arms on a hard surface and not even thinking about it. These pads are like a bed for your arms and your wrist. We should be a little more concerned about improving it.”
The Crocketts are hoping to see their business idea take off and would like to eventually use their workspace to “bless other people.”
“We developed our (manufacturing process) and invested in the machinery for the purpose of being able to grow the manufacturing plant,” Crockett says. “There are a lot of people who have great jobs, are hard workers, but don’t quite make enough. (We’d like to be able to) change up the model so we can bless people with a job that’s easily trainable.”