„Impulses for new developments often arise from personal contact“

Johannes Hagenmeyer (Photo: Darco)

Johannes Hagenmeyer, Executive Director of DARCO (Europe) GmbH, reveals in an interview which developments and concepts the company is employing to meet current and future challenges.

Mr. Hagenmeyer, DARCO has been involved in foot surgery in Germany, Europe and worldwide for over 35 years and has been supplying appropriate orthopaedic devices for post-operative care for just as long. In your opinion, which developments in foot surgery were and are essential for the development of new orthopaedic solutions for post-operative care?

Preventive, acute and long-term management of foot and ankle injuries has always been one of DARCO‘s core priorities. Inevitably, new requirements, such as changes in indications and surgical techniques, differentiated treatment approaches, social developments, active environmental management and the rapidly growing number of diabetic patients, present us with new challenges.

Innovative materials and expanding technical possibilities contribute significantly to the development of new orthopaedic devices. Added to this is our flexibility in production, the many years of expertise within the company and the strengthened cooperation with biomechanical institutes, physicians, podiatrists and users. In the face of rapid medical advancement, combined with increasingly scarce resources and stricter regulations, optimizing and improving our orthopaedic devices and work processes are priority.

DARCO focuses on compatible treatment solutions, whether in the field of therapeutic shoes, insole systems, positional orthopaedic devices or orthoses. A good example of this is our lower leg foot orthosis Relief Insert® Walker 2.0, which as a combination product covers the entire treatment pathway from post-operative immobilisation directly in the clinic through to mobilization by the patient, i.e. a positioning splint, walker and relief shoe in one. 

DARCO is not only a manufacturer, but also has its own development department. Where does the impetus for new developments come from and how does the process from concept to the finished product work? 

As a global specialist in orthopaedic devices for the foot and ankle we draw on a wealth of knowledge. DARCO operates globally, so that the latest scientific findings from international specialist circles and the expertise of our product developers in the USA, Europe and the UK complement one another. The impetus for new developments often comes from the personal contact we maintain with the medical profession and clinicians. Equally, the evolution and refinement of proven DARCO products generates new approaches from which innovative solutions emerge. Our development department does not realise prototype to market launch alone, but is in constant exchange with biomechanical institutes, medical specialists, technicians and users.

In a recent press release, you announced that the dramatic increase in patients with Diabetes calls for DARCO to become more involved in wound and diabetic care. What solutions can we expect from DARCO in the coming years?

“We help you get foot wounds under control!“ With this motto, we see ourselves as one of the product specialists who are absolutely dedicated to the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers on the foot and lower extremities. New concepts across all phases of the disease - preventive, acute and chronic care - as well as effective solutions for physicians, nursing staff, podiatrists and patients are at the forefront. Interdisciplinary cooperation is particularly important. DARCO is therefore committed to the continuous development and improvement of treatment standards for foot wounds and diabetic feet and has published special product treatment guides for Diabetes and wound care.
A new version of one of DARCO‘s core products for diabetic and wound care, which is well established among podiatrists, will be available next year. Our WCS® Wound Care Shoe has been improved and refined. For example, the rocker sole has been significantly improved. The use of a new material makes the surface contact better shock-absorbent and slip-resistant at the same time. The Body Armor® Pro Term foot stump orthosis has also been given a complete design update in addition to many other optimisations. 

DARCO comes from the field of medical orthopaedic devices, but also offers a comfort shoe collection with the YDA (Your Daily Activity) series. Where would you classify these shoes yourself: are they fashionable therapeutic shoes or comfort shoes with therapeutic function?

In the YDA series, we see the perfect combination of comfort shoe with therapeutic function: be it preventative, for foot deformities or diabetic risk foot, or postoperatively after the wearing time of a post-operative shoe has expired. The therapeutic functions are clear to see: the YDA shoes relieve pressure on the forefoot by shifting the roll-over point backwards. This redistributes pressure over the entire foot and it supports the patient‘s natural gait pattern.

What new developments can we expect from DARCO in the area of footwear and orthopaedic foot and ankle devices in the future?

The future challenges in the field of Diabetes and wound care are huge and we will be expanding our portfolio in this area. The new IWGDF Guidelines 2023, which were published in The Hague in May, show how enormously important adequate footwear and care is and what is important in the area of Charcot foot and amputation. Biomechanics is playing an increasingly important role. We are working closely with institutes to expand our Relief Dual® Family. A new product is already in the starting blocks. The MDR guidelines have taken their toll on everyone in the industry. DARCO is ideally positioned and can now confidently launch new solutions in the areas of post-operative, trauma and, in particular, wound and diabetic care.

Mr. Hagenmeyer, thank you very much for the interview!