Tamarack marks 20 years of product design, services

Tamarack Habilitation Technologies turns 20 years old in 2010. The company, which is based in Blaine, opened its doors in Fall 1990 as a full-service orthotic, prosthetic, rehab engineering facility. Tamarack is a small corporation of 16 employees, wholly owned by the Marty and Peggy Carlson family.

Though small in employee numbers, Tamarack stands tall in product design and service for people with disabilities. The company is known world-wide in the orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) marketplace for developing the “Tamarack”, a line of free motion and dorsiflexion assist ankle joints as well as ShearBan® low-friction interfaces, fabrication tools and a wide range of journal publications related to orthotic design.

“The Tamarack management team considers physical challenges of injured/impaired people to be akin to, and part of, a continuous spectrum including the physical challenges of elite athletes,” said Marty Carlson. “We enjoy the process of discovering ways to enhance function for people across that entire performance spectrum with greater efficiency, comfort/safety and enjoyment.”

In its 20th year Tamarack has made physical changes to its facilities, expanding its research and development and manufacturing departments. The facility’s heating, cooling and lighting systems have also been improved.

Tamarack’s founding professionals were Dave Harris, Catherine Voss, Mark Payette, Dianne Goodwin and Marty Carlson.

In 1995 the company completed development and began producing the Tamarack Flexure Joint™. In the next five years, the TFJ was followed by a related group of tools, additional joint componentry and ShearBan®, a low-friction interface patch material. Shearban was introduced in 1998.

At the end of the 1990s, the patient care portion of Tamarack Habilitation Technologies was split off and turned over to a local hospital system. In 2000 Tamarack moves operations to its current Blaine location. The company also completed its restructuring as a research, development and manufacturing firm for all Tamarack product lines. Also in 2000 the company introduced another new product, the Free Arm Deep Throat Press. In 2002 Tamarack introduced the Tamarack Variable Assist™ (TVA) ankle joint and followed that accomplishment in 2004 by unveiling the Clevisphere™ free-motion, adjustable stop ankle joint. Yet another accomplishment in joint technology was achieved.

Also in 2004 Tamarack introduced ENGO® Blister Prevention Patches, a sister product to Tamarack’s ShearBan low-friction material. Three years later, the patches reached the summit of Mount Everest with the Caudwell Xtreme Everest Expedition Team.

Tamarack continues as a developer and manufacturer of components and materials for orthotic, prosthetic and pedorthic care professionals. Tamarack has enjoyed success with products which enhance the reliability and range of solutions for clients with disabilities. In a recent article, co-founder Marty Carlson said, “Beyond that, the central Tamarack dream for the next few years is that our friction management products (Shear-Ban® & its variants) will have a major impact to prevent and improve the care of neuropathic foot wounds. The prevalence of diabetes in the U.S., and around the world, is increasing at a very alarming pace. Our knowledge of the mechanics of soft tissue trauma and our low-friction interface technology can help orthotists, prosthetists and pedorthists prevent and care for those wounds. In this, our 20th year, we are launching a major campaign to educate care providers about the techniques and benefits of offloading both pressure and friction/shear.”

Tamarack contributes funds, materials and employee time to help educate and assist O&P schools in many locations across the nation and around the world.

Looking forward, Tamarack will continue to develop upon its understanding of ankle-foot biomechanics and skin trauma in order to fuel future product design efforts.

(This information was compiled from the Tamarack newsletter and Web site.)