Two years ago, Ian Connolly and Jeffrey Yang took on a challenge posed by the Miraclefeet organization: build a low-cost, comfortable, and effective brace for clubfoot child patients in developing countries. They have come a long way since then. Recently the first shipment of the Miraclefeet Brace arrived on Connolly’s front porch, all the way from China.

A product of Design for Extreme Affordability, a course taught at Stanford’s d.School, the Miraclefeet Brace is a patient-focused innovation. When Connolly and Yang first travelled to Brazil to validate their work, both were struck by the ineffective design and extreme cost of the existing devices made to correct clubfoot. Upon their return to Stanford, they reworked the brace by using a new plastic design that is more effective, appealing, and much less expensive (they approximate less than $20 USD).

Connolly and Yang were taught methods of empathetic, human-centered design thinking at the d.school, and continued to stress the importance of these methods throughout their process. They never wavered from their initial mission: make the most financially accessible and medically effective device for patients.

With initial funding from SEED and the Social E Lan at Stanford, Connolly and Yang built a prototype and continued to work with Miraclefeet and others to refine their model.

In March, Connolly and Yang embark on a new journey. With their first shipment in, they will begin to test their product. The Miraclefeet Brace will be distributed throughout Nicaragua, India, South Africa, Brazil, and the U.S., countries where Miraclefeet has established partnerships. Connolly and Yang will travel to India and South Africa to see the effectiveness of their product within clinics.

Both Connolly and Yang’s career paths have been largely influenced by their time working on the Miraclefeet Brace. Connolly will begin medical school next fall, and Yang hopes to pursue a career in product design or mechanical engineering.

With the pilot launch of their product, they are now hoping to connect with people who have a business-development perspective as Connolly and Yang consider the potential for their device. Check out further information at: http://extreme.stanford.edu/projects/miraclefeet-brace.