The story behind Contino®
When Ken, the Contino® founder, set about to create a new incontinence device, he knew he was onto something that would fundamentally change the way people looked at urinary incontinence management. But what he didn’t know, was that what he created would eventually change his own life forever.
Ken's history of designing things
Ken is one of those guys who has a talent for fixing things. This allowed him to go far in his career as an aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) in the industry—a job he loved dearly and never quite gave up after his early retirement at age 54.
Born in 1931, in the town of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Ken developed an interest in airplanes at the age of seven. He saw his first plane sitting on a lake, on skis, in northern Manitoba; after that he was hooked and read everything he could get his hands on. In 1951, he was fortunate to hear that Trans Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) in Winnipeg had a contract with the Royal Canadian Air Force and was hiring people to look after military airplanes. Although he had no experience in fixing aircraft, he jumped at the opportunity. A mechanically-inclined man, Ken found his job as a maintenance person easy, troubleshooting problems on the aircraft and finding solutions. He worked his way up the ladder and retired at age 54 in March 1986. He continued in private aviation, rebuilding old airplanes for fun and flying them.
Ken felt blessed he was doing a job he loved but had no idea how much his knowledge and interest in hydraulics and fluidics would ultimately change his life for the better.
Ken's prostatectomy and subsequent urinary incontinence
In 2006, Ken was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although he was 76 at the time, the doctors elected to perform surgery to remove the gland because he was otherwise in excellent physical shape. The surgery removed the cancer…but left him with urinary incontinence (UI). While it seemed a small price to pay for a chance at many more years of life, incontinence really impacted Ken’s life. He started avoiding social situations, worrying that people would find the odor of his adult diaper offensive. Months later, when his spouse told him “you smell like an old man,” Ken became determined to find a more acceptable, positive, and comfortable solution.
Ken looks for a better solution to diapers
Following his prostate surgery, Ken’s urinary sphincter stopped working, making him unable to hold his urine in all circumstances. As he reflected on his situation, he had an epiphany: “If you don’t want the water to drain, you put a plug in it.” Maybe that simple concept could be applied to his own incontinence management. So, he went to work on a plug concept, tinkering with glass beads and stainless-steel wire. After many days and numerous trials, a prototype emerged.
Ken gets his life back
The device eventually evolved after Ken’s initial design to become the internationally patented, Contino® that exists today. As for Ken, he says he has “been dry as popcorn” for five years straight using the device he invented. And that despite over 15,000 urethral insertions and removals, he has never had an infection, discomfort, or any complications. When he wears the Contino® device, he needs nothing else, and isn’t limited in what he can do physically. In fact, he often has to do a physical check before heading out, just to make sure he’s wearing it—because he can’t feel it. Apart from taking a minute or two longer in the washroom, his situation now is just like any other continent person—a far cry from the days of adult diapers. Ken has literally “got his life back”.