Vail inventor creates style for the rehab set |

Vail inventor creates style for the rehab set

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado
Dominique Taylor/dtaylor@vaildaily.comSarah Lindholm, founder of the clothing company, Cooper Martin, models a pair of her company's pants designed with style for people with limited mobility. The pants have zippers on the outside of each leg for easier access in and out with having to move too much.

VAIL ” For a lot of people, surgery is sort of like being pregnant ” a lot of your clothes aren’t going to fit for a while.

Sarah Lindholm saw how limiting surgery can be when her boyfriend’s father had a knee and hip replaced in the same year about three years ago.

“He was wearing sweats all the time, and he just wouldn’t leave the house,” Lindholm said. “He basically spent 10 months inside the house, and he started getting depressed.”

What Lindholm noticed is that a lot of recovery time is spent in bathrobes or sweatsuits. For a lot of people, those are clothes to be worn at home, or maybe the gym, but not to a restaurant or dinner party.

Looking around for suitable clothes for a man or woman in a knee brace or catheter, Lindholm didn’t find much looking at medical-supply Web sites. “It’s all just so sterile-looking,” she said. “So much of it either looks like a moo-moo or a diaper.”

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Cooper-Martin clothing was born from that experience.

Not long after the experience with her boyfriend’s dad, Lindholm quit her job as an attorney in Denver and started doing research into both fashion and medical procedures. In addition to her own research, Lindholm began working with designers at a clothing factory in California ” the factory where the clothes are now being made ” to get the design just right.

Lindholm also checked with doctors, hospitals and rehab centers.

“I wanted to find out what people needed,” she said. “Does it need to be larger? Should there be buttons? How do you tweak a normal pair of pants so they’ll work?”

Lindholm’s goal was to invent normal-looking pants ” for men and women ” that will come apart in a way that makes dressing easier for someone who’s with limited mobility from back or hip surgery, or who’s navigating a knee brace or other medical equipment.

The result with pants that have zippers up the outsides of both legs. The zippers go from the waistband to the bottom of the cuff. The zippers go both ways, as on a ski parka, and there are plastic tabs that hook to the top of the waistband for a little extra security.

The result is men’s khaki pants that would be fine with anything from a polo shirt to a sport shirt, tie and blazer, and women’s pants that would work for anything from dinner out to Sunday morning at church.

After more than two and a half years of work ” and some testing with patients at Columbia University Medical Center ” the Cooper-Martin clothing line is ready to roll. The Web site is already up, and Lindholm expects clothes to start shipping about May 1. The men’s and women’s pants will be followed by “lounge pants” for men and women, and shirts are in the pipeline, too.

“I think there’s a whole rehab demographic out there that isn’t being served,” Lindholm said. “Why should you have to walk around in a bathrobe?”

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