Cold Therapy

Toronto Medical Corp

Toronto Medical Corp (TMC), the world's first CPM manufacturer, began as a biological concept originated by Dr R.B. Salter of Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. After eight years of basic research on the concept in 1978 Dr Salter approached Dr David F. James and John Saringer at U of T department of Mechanical Engineering to develop the first CPM machines to be applied to humans.

The first experimental devices were made by 4th year Mechanical Engineering students as part of their thesis work supervised by Saringer. Devices were built for the leg, elbow and finger joints. Only the leg device, a loud and clumsy machine that rotated a bicycle pedal, was ever used on a patient. Dr Salter also tried it out on himself and slept overnight with it at home. Dr Salter, the first human to be on a knee CPM machine, was able to sleep a full night with no adverse effect.

By 1981, with help of Geoff Chandler, Saringer had developed 3 new CPM machines for the hand, knee and elbow, all of which were used on the first patients in Toronto. The development was financed by the Imasco-CDC Research Foundation, an industry and government cooperative foundation dedicated to sponsoring medical device development in Canada. Toronto Medical Corp, incorporated by Saringer in 1979, opened its first manufacturing location at 9 Golden Gate Court in Scarborough at the end of 1981.

Photo: Taken in 1982 at Toronto Medical Corp. 9 Golden Gate Ct in Scarborough Ontario, John Saringer (left), Geoff Chandler, Shawn O'Driscoll (centre), Don McPherson (Synthes Canada) and Dr. R.B. Salter (right).

The first distributor of the CPM devices was Synthes Canada Ltd, run by Don McPherson at that time. Christina Woodside was the CPM product manager.

After a good start in Canada through Synthes and Don McPherson, Toronto Medical recruited D.D. Davidson to devise an international marketing strategy for the company. He joined the company shortly thereafter to implement the plan which was financed through a private investment by IDEA Corp, an Ontario government VC fund. Davidson was a seasoned health care executive and the former managing director of Zimmer UK Ltd.

With Saringer running product development and manufacturing, and Davidson running the company's sales and marketing efforts, Toronto Medical grew very quickly from a start-up to 2 million in annual sales by 1987. It had now expanded to occupy 3 locations on Golden Gate Court in Scarborough Ontario.


D. D. Davidson left



Toronto Medical was refinanced with $3 million of equity in 1987 by the Haughton Group, an investment fund managed by Clifford Haughton and composed of many high net worth investors and friends of Cliff's from the Granite Club. Davidson retired shortly thereafter, however the international network of distributors he had set up, in most cases, remain in place to the present day. The company moved to occupy its own facilities in 1989, a modern and newly renovated manufacturing plant located at 901 Dillingham Rd in Pickering, where the successor company is still located today.

In 1992 the company lost its major US distributor, Therakinetics Inc, and launched its own US subsidiary, US Ortho. Therakinetics went on to manufacture their own products. US Ortho was run by Mike Toretti, the former sales manager of Sutter Biomedical of San Diego, also a very prominent CPM manufacturing and distribution company. US Ortho was initially started in San Diego by Toretti and then moved to Denver Colorado. George Lyn became the President of Toronto Medical at that time while Saringer continued as the Director of Product Development for the company.

US Ortho grew quickly in the USA and by 1994, consolidated annual sales for the company were over $12 million. Therakinetics, TMC's former US distributor, was in trouble and virtually bankrupt. Unable to pay its sales force and losing business rapidly, Therakinetics used litigation to prevent losses of sales and to keep its key sales executives from joining its competitors. US Ortho defended itself in 19 separate lawsuits from Therakinetics. After 3 years and $2.5 million in legal defence costs, all but 1 suit was dismissed. A sympathetic small town jury local to Therakinetics in Pennsylvania awarded Therakinetics $2 million in damages. US Ortho filed for bankruptcy protection shortly thereafter. Therakinetics had succeeded in preventing US Ortho and TMC from dominating this industry. Toronto Medical was sold shortly thereafter to become Orthomotion. It is now owned by Otto Bock Ltd and still operates from the Pickering location


The CPM machines shown on this page were all designed by John Saringer and developed in Canada through collaborative efforts with Dr. R.B. Salter of the Hospital for Sick Children Toronto. The company, Toronto Medical Corp that Saringer founded and built into a multinational company is now part of Otto Bock Canada Ltd This company remains as the largest manufacturer worldwide of CPM equipment. By 1997 the company had manufactured and sold over 30,000 CPM machines in over 50 countries worldwide. AS of 2005 it has been estimated that over 8 million patients have been treated by CPM.

Clinical studies have demonstrated the following benefits of CPM:

  • Prevents joint stiffness and promotes faster recovery to normal ROM and function.

  • Prevents intra-articular adhesions and extra-articular contractures.

  • Improves patient compliance with both passive and active therapies.

  • Stimulates healing and regeneration of articular cartilage by increasing nutrition and metabolic activity through the synovium to the cartilage.

  • Reduces necrosis and improves tensile strength in tendon and ligament reconstruction.

  • Results in superior alignment of collagen fibers.