Walker innovator helps mom, others
Miguel Jimenez works on the wheels of an U-Step Walker at In-Step Mobility in Skokie. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
What: Makes the U-Step II walker and other products to help with mobility.
Where: 8027 Monticello Ave., Skokie
Updated: November 21, 2012 12:20PM
SKOKIE – It began as a way to help his mother move more easily, not to make a new career for himself.
But the walker created about 20 years ago by Jonathan Miller did both, and now Miller’s company, In-Step Mobility Products Inc. of Skokie, produces walkers to help many people move more easily.
The U-Step II walker, the newest version of the product, is mostly geared toward people who have neurological conditions and need more stability with a walker. Most In-Step customers battle Parkinson’s disease, but those with other impairments find great value using the walker as well.
Miller made the first walker in his mother’s basement in Skokie.
“My mother had a neurological condition, and she went to Evanston Hospital and she worked with therapists and doctors, and she still wasn’t doing well,” Miller said.
He was working for a marketing and research company in new products at the time but had no experience designing his own product.
“I was seeing that my mother was doing all the right things, and it wasn’t helping,” he said.
The walkers on the market then weren’t stable enough for those with severe conditions, Miller said, nor did they offer the same control
“I made a much more stable product for her that was much easier to control,” he said.
His first model was made of wood at the base. He went to a hardware store to buy tubes to complete the project.
When his mother’s doctor mentioned these walkers could help a lot of people, Miller thought about creating the business. His mother’s walker cost him $3,000 to make, but the product is less expensive for
What they have in common is the U shape, which provides stability in front and back and on the sides.
Miller’s mother was always able to walk well holding onto someone’s arm or a wall, so her son’s mission was to simulate that kind of stability.
In-Step Mobility has had four different locations since its basement beginnings — all in Skokie. Its latest home is a 6,000-square-foot facility in the village’s east end industrial area.
The walkers change lives, Miller said, and others agree.
“When we bought a U-Step walker, the results were nothing short of a miracle,” said Ralph Bakery of Los Angeles. “It is lightweight, easy to operate, and with a far more dignified design than other units (my
father) is used to.”
“U-Step can prevent falls and improve quality of life that will ultimately save health-care costs,” said Dr. Eugene Lai, a professor in the neurology department at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
The company also makes other innovative products such as a laser cane, but its walker is still the main offering — and that’s only because of a considerate son who tried to help his mother walk better a couple of decades ago.