Samantha Simmons, founder of Curative Orthopaedics, has developed a therapeutic brace designed specifically for sleep. (Courtesy photo)
Samantha Simmons, founder of Curative Orthopaedics, has developed a therapeutic brace designed specifically for sleep. (Courtesy photo)

Samantha Simmons started her Curative Orthopaedics company out of necessity.

While in college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Simmons fractured her spine while competing in track and field, an injury that developed over time after participating in the triple jump for nearly a decade.

“While recovering from the injury, my pain was worse at night, it kept me awake,” she said.

To her chagrin, Simmons discovered that there was a lack of noninvasive solutions available solution to treat nighttime pain.

“I then developed my own solution called Back2Sleep, a soft, therapeutic brace designed specifically for sleep,” said Simmons, a New York resident whose uncle, Ron Burke, serves as director of advertising and marketing for The Washington Informer. “My injury happened right before I turned 21, and during my senior year of college, I remember my mom would judge how I was doing based on how many 3 a.m. phone calls she would receive from me in a given week.

Samantha Simmons, founder of Curative Orthopaedics, has developed a therapeutic brace designed specifically for sleep. (Courtesy photo)

“Almost every night, I would call her up crying from the pain and she would help to talk me back to sleep,” she said.

Over the next four years, Simmons developed her own routine to help with her nighttime back pain, bundling herself in a heavy blanket “like a cocoon” and fall asleep on an icepack.

“It was something about the weight of the blanket, the compression, and the numbing of the lower back that helped to ease my pain,” Simmons recalled. “Independently of my nighttime routine, I began acupuncture treatments, at the age of 25, which proved extremely beneficial.”

As a result, Simmons conceived a way to combine acupressure — a noninvasive form of acupuncture — with her nighttime routine into one product to help treat others with chronic pain. She went on to design her company’s first product, Back2Sleep, a therapeutic back brace designed to alleviate nighttime back pain while providing a more comfortable night’s sleep.

The user simply puts on the brace before bed and the therapy happens during rest.

“I knew I had a good idea on my hands when I began talking to medical professionals and learning that there was currently nothing on the market comparable to my product,” she said. “My team and I then conducted a clinical trial in 2016; that was the first time we were able to prove that the product worked for other people, and not just me.”

Simmons founded Curative Orthopaedics while in business school at MIT Sloan, where she had returned to school to start her own company. After graduating in 2015, she moved to New York and her company continues to have close ties with her West Chester, Pennsylvania, hometown.

Simmons said the company has a simple mission: to help chronic pain sufferers reduce pain and heal faster, all by providing safe solutions to help them sleep better at night.

Her signature product has been thoroughly tested.

“In 2016, we conducted a nationwide [Institutional Review Board] approved clinical trial for the Back2Sleep back brace. Because of the clinical trial, we proved efficacy of the brace and received amazing feedback,” Simmons said.

Up until that point, Simmons said she had only tested the brace on herself and she was quite pleased to find that it worked for others.

“People that don’t have back pain don’t realize how debilitating it can be, and simply with a better night’s sleep, a person’s quality of life can be drastically improved,” she said. “Now, we are currently in the process of marketing the brace, utilizing some of the claims from our clinical trial.”

Still, starting a business has never been easy and Simmons said she’s no exception.

“One of the hardest things about starting my own company has been fundraising, which almost every founder will say,” she said.
“At an early stage, you simply don’t have the revenues or traction to prove success, so you’re asking people to give you money primarily on an idea, which is no walk in the park.”

Being a young black female founder also came with its own set of roadblocks, she said.

Although there are initiatives for companies to hire minorities, when it comes to investing, “people can be as prejudiced as they want because it’s their money,” Simmons said.

Curative Orthopaedics has been able to secure some funding, but has had to get creative, she said.

“After attempting various marketing strategies over the past couple of years, we recently began using Instagram to connect with professional athletes, which has proved to be very successful,” Simmons said. “Instagram has been an amazing tool for us, and I believe it’s truly changed the direct to consumer marketing game. If you’re creative enough, it can open the door for your company.

“As a result of using Instagram as a platform to connect with athletes, this NFL preseason, we’re excited to announce that you’ll be seeing a number of players with our Back2Sleep back brace and I’m so excited for what’s in store,” she said.

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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