5 Minutes with Doug Garven

Doug Garven

Doug Garven, pictured with his wife, Tricia, is Product Design Manager for Permobil.

Of the projects I’m working on, I’m most excited by… the one I’m working on currently. Unfortunately, it’s one I can’t really give any information about, but it’s something that’s really exciting, and I think it is going to be a benchmark in the industry.

Of the challenges facing complex rehab technology (CRT) right now, I’m most concerned about… funding and its continued downward spiral in the wrong direction of less and less. It’s really unfortunate that there are companies out there catering to this and building products which are helping to facilitate this trend.

The technology segment I’m most intrigued by is… new materials, from a manual rehab perspective. Some of the technology they’re incorporating into power chairs these days is truly amazing and their connectivity to smart phones… it’s pretty awesome!

What the industry needs most right now is… support from Congress. It seems like we always have some type of CRT bill that we’re trying hard to get passed to keep funding alive and to keep people’s ability to make choices. Not having to go through this every year would be nice.

A segment that’s really hot right now is… In manual rehab, it’s always about materials — being able to optimize the material for a particular function, a desired performance characteristic or even a certain price point. Every chair is different and presents its own unique challenges.

What I wish I could change about CRT is… that we didn’t always have to fight the funding battles. That would open up the creative process. There are so many different cool features and design details I can think of that don’t always get included in a chair because of limits to reimbursement in that segment.

My favorite thing about the CRT industry is… In my world, it’s creative problem solving. I’ve been designing chairs now for 26 years now — not sure where that time went, as it just seems like yesterday! Anyway, you’d think I’d be running out of new ideas, but I haven’t yet. Every chair, every project has its own unique challenges and things that I’m trying to improve upon. I’m always trying to solve the problem the best way that I can with the end user in mind. Anytime I’m working on a project, I’m learning things at the same time and taking mental notes that I’ll refer to on the next project to hopefully make that one even better!

An industry member or person in my personal life I really admire is… one and the same person — my wife, Tricia. I think she’s one of the smartest, funniest, most genuinely nice people that I’ve ever met. She makes me a better person, and I love her with all my heart. [Editor’s note: Tricia Garven, PT, MPT, ATP, is Regional Clinical Education Manager at Permobil.]

My favorite recent industry event was… I think the highlight in our industry every year is the REHA show in Germany. It has the most varied products from all over the world, not just the normal things you see at our North American shows. Different ways and ideas of trying to solve mobility problems, which is really cool to see.

My favorite tradeshow venue/city is… I certainly like Vancouver, and I think another good one is Vegas, although we don’t go there much anymore. Good food, lots of entertainment, sometimes too much fun….

If I could give my younger self a message, it would be… patience — not to sound like an old man, which I guess I technically am these days!

In five years, I expect to be… doing the same thing I have been: designing chairs.

I want to be remembered by this industry as… hopefully, someone who designed some cool products that changed or improved people’s lives.

People who know me well would say I… am a pretty easygoing, mellow, laid-back type of person.

Those people would be surprised to learn that… there are things that, if I wake up at night and start thinking about them, I’ll end up lying awake and thinking for a long time. Especially if it’s a design problem.

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Mobility Management.

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