As football season approached, the family of viral Michigan teen Eric Kilburn Jr. knew there was little hope of finding an ankle brace to fit his size 23 feet and provide the support he needed on the field. That was until a chance collaboration with TayCo Brace, producer of an ankle brace used by more than 22 NFL teams and 80 NCAA programs, led to a custom solution.
Earlier this year, Kilburn went viral when several companies and former professional athletes such as Shaquille O'Neal took notice of his family’s search for shoes. Although the 6'10" teen received custom-built and donated shoes that helped relieve foot pain and blisters, he still experienced ankle pain that prevented him from playing football to the best of his abilities.
A typical ankle brace often requires an athlete to go up a shoe size. This wasn't a possibility for Kilburn, and TayCo Brace stepped in with a custom solution. The company’s athletic external ankle brace fits over an athlete’s cleats instead of being worn inside the shoe. It allows injured athletes to return immediately to play with stability and protection and can also be used as a preventative measure against ankle injuries.
“TayCo Brace is providing our family with peace of mind, and we’re not as concerned about seeing that ankle twist or watching him limp off the football field,” said Rebecca Kilburn, Eric’s mom. “Wearing the ankle braces allows Eric to be part of the team, which means everything to him and us. We’re grateful he’s been given this opportunity.”
TayCo Brace built Kilburn’s braces from the ground up, resulting in the world's current largest braces. Using its personalized manufacturing process, TayCo Brace cast Kilburn to capture his unique ankle anatomy, make an individualized form, mold the plastics, and then cut out, assemble and shape the finished products by hand.
“While it means a lot to TayCo Brace to help Eric return to the field, we wanted to provide braces that helped him recover and stabilize his ankle so that it heals properly,” said Gavin Ferlic, TayCo Brace co-founder and CEO. “The ultimate goal of our organization and product line is to help people function at a normal level with the support they need to accommodate their activities and daily living.”