Skin Care Solutions
California company offers products for individuals with amputation, diabetes, and other conditions
AFTER GRADUATING FROM MEDICAL school, earning an advanced degree in public health, and becoming a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, Paul Dean, MD, MPH, FAAD, became an entrepreneur. In 2007, he launched Skin Resource.MD, a company that offers a line of skin care products designed to reverse, prevent, and control the signs of aging. Dean's entry into the O&P arena was serendipitous. "My general manager came to me one day, saying his father was disabled from diabetes and had terrible issues with his prosthesis," recalls Dean. "He wondered what skin care product [he] should use. I soon realized we would need a whole system of products to address his needs and those of other amputees—to cleanse, reduce friction, moisturize, and prevent infections and inflammation on the residual limb." Dean founded VitalFit in 2019 to provide exactly that. Working with a chemist, he developed a system comprising four products: a daily cleanser, moisturizers for day and night, and Liquid-to-Powder Plus, which is designed to reduce odor and sweat and help protect against shear and friction. Both the cleanser and the day moisturizer are antibacterial, antifungal, and antiinflammatory; the night moisturizer contains antioxidants and helps relieve dry, chapped, or cracked skin, according to Dean. The same system is beneficial for the amputee's sound side as well, and for patients with diabetes, to prevent damage, particularly on the feet, where a lesion can lead to serious disability, says Dean.
Those who wear orthotic devices enjoy similar benefits, he says. Vital Fit markets to patients and O&P facilities in the United States, and works with a partner in Australia. The company has a robust website that features regular blog entries and educational webinars and videos for amputees. Physical therapist Cosi Belloso, MSPT, and Paralympic athlete Greg Mannino, CP, offer several presentations on YouTube, Facebook, and the website on topics pertinent to the amputee community, including phantom pain, skin care, selection of prosthetic feet and ankles, and wearing schedules. The company's online presence, including Instagram postings, has expanded since the pandemic began. "Once we were unable to meet people in person at trade shows and other physical events, we ramped up our webinars and videos," says Christine Erbacher, who manages the company's national sales. "The pandemic actually helped us to make information more accessible to a larger audience."
VitalFit is involved in the amputee community, both locally and nationally. It is a sponsor of the Amputee Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which is based in nearby San Diego, and the company frequently participates in amputee clinics. Dean would like individuals with amputation to have a range of ways to access the VitalFit system The company's affiliate program for clinics offers incentives to make VitalFit products available in O&P facilities. Giving patients access to the skin care system in the clinic is especially important for the elderly, who may not be comfortable buying online. Dean also is pursuing partnerships with manufacturers of other O&P products, such as liner companies. "It's important to be forward thinking and consider all options, including engaging with other manufacturers," he says. And he is exploring the development of additional products, such as a moisturizing wipe, and other configurations of the four-element system. "The major cause of device abandonment is skin irritation," says Dean. "It doesn't matter how amazing the device is; if the patient is experiencing skin problems, the patient won't wear it. Feedback from both patients and practitioners has been very positive. Healthy skin is the foundation for positive outcome and that's the end goal." CP
Deborah Conn is a contributing writer to O&P Almanac. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.