C.J.: Rubio hobbles on crutches dreamed up in Minnesota

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 13, 2012 - 4:15 PM

Ricky Rubio hobbled in the glamorous footsteps of Halle Berry when Mobilegs crutches brought the injured Timberwolf to Tuesday's dog-and-pony show.

Mobilegs are award-winning, ergonomically correct crutches designed by Minnesotan Jeff Weber.

I first saw the crutches with the meshed arm saddle a few weeks ago when I visited WCCO-TV anchor Frank Vascellaro, who was recuperating from left hip replacement surgery. Vascellaro absolutely raved about the crutches, which he described as "cool looking" as he explained how they work and talked about the theory behind their design and the local guy who created them. (Dear "Where's Frank?" e-mailers: Since I wrote that he had bum hips back when I reported that his right hip was being replaced, I didn't think there was any rush to write about his latest surgery. As you can see, he returned to work on Tuesday.)

Speaking to media for the first time since injuring his ACL March 9 against the Lakers, Rubio said he already hates his crutches and can't wait until he doesn't need them. The rookie guard is too young to appreciate this advancement in crutch technology.

"The fundamental design of crutches hasn't changed for over 150 years," according to Jeff Stoner, veep of sales and marketing for Bloomington-based Mobilegs.

"Nobody likes to be on crutches. Obviously, what we're trying to do is make it as comfortable as possible when people have to be on them," said Stoner.

"We introduced them to the market in 2011. They were designed by Jeff Weber, a local designer who was instrumental in the design of the Herman Miller Aeron chair and its successor, the Embody. He [Weber] broke his heel about five years ago, was on crutches for about 13 weeks. He was so frustrated with the pain and soreness that he said, This is a solvable problem. Let me take a patient-centric view and design them in a way they should be designed."

Weber, who was not available for comment, realized that whether a person needs crutches for short-term use or a chronic condition, "There is a way to eliminate the discomfort under the arms, which is what the saddle does," said Stoner. "It has a spring to it; it's mesh, to keep things cool. The handle is at a very intentional angle. It helps keep the wrist in a neutral position and uses the strongest part of the hand." Traditional crutches require use of the weakest part of the hand.

Mobilegs are also "designed to keep you in a more natural walking position," said Stoner.

In addition to Halle Berry, Stoner said, other users have included the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.

That's rich. The coach who's about to begin a year-long suspension from the NFL for not stopping his miscreant players from intentionally maiming Brett Favre and others in their Injuries for Bounty Scandal convalesced on crutches made in Minnesota. Something else to gall you if you're a Vikings fan.

Stoner said Rubio is the "highest-profile local athlete" the company has seen on Mobilegs.

Pleased as Stoner is with these celebrity placements, so to speak, "The cases where we've seen veterans and military personnel on Mobilegs in recovery or due to severe injuries make us just as proud."

R.I.P., Taste Fairy

Enjoy Subway's Taste Fairy commercials while they run.

The character created by Nemer Fieger and portrayed by KFAN's Dan Cole, the Common Man, has gotten the hook from Subway's Connecticut headquarters, Common told me.

"I don't know how long they're going to run these. They are not going to do a new shoot," said Common.

Too bad. A new shoot would have meant a serious financial bump for the Common Man.

"I texted Nemer Fieger Guy and he left me a message saying he hated to break the news over the phone," Common said. "Usually when you kill somebody off, you knock on their door, right? You know, law enforcement comes by and says: You've lost a loved one. They didn't do that this time.

"That's OK. I kind of like it over the phone. It would have been very tearful for me to look Nemer Fieger Guy in the eye and have him tell me it was over. I think I would have broken down.

"So it's over. But you never know. [Nemer Fieger Guy] said maybe they'll make some last-ditch effort of some sort. They are scheming something. I think it might be over, and maybe it's better that way. I don't have to go through all the humiliation anymore" of wearing a pink tutu.

Trouble for Prody

Christie Prody can't blame an imprisoned O.J. Simpson for her current problems. The Minnesota woman, who lived with Simpson in Florida, has been working as a nurse's aide in Moorhead, where she's been accused of stealing medicine from an elderly patient, according to the Associated Press (www.startribune.com/a1211).

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. More of her attitude can be seen Thursdays on Fox 9's "Buzz."

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