Tuff Cuff Wins Awards, Funds, and Peer Support

Solving a longstanding surgical problem is the next step in the company’s MedTech mission

Maine-Lee Technology Group (MLTG), developers of technically advanced medical apparel and products, has won two recent cash awards and a financial grant for its latest invention. The company’s “Tough Cuff Surgical Sleeve” is a bifunctional AAMI level 4 surgical gown sleeve that presents an innovative solution for securing the integrity of the glove-gown interface. That common junction in everyday surgical apparel has long been recognized as the weak spot in the fluid management required to secure sterility because of its vulnerability to particle contamination.

The Tough Cuff earned a $5000 prize as one of five winners of this year’s Protective Clothing Challenge, a national competition designed to provide better-fitting protective clothing for U.S. workers. The challenge was sponsored by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in collaboration with NASA’s Tournament Lab and the crowdsourcing platform, HeroX. The groundbreaking product also won another $5,000 prize for its first-place finish in the first annual Maine Start-up Challenge. The statewide competition was hosted by the Maine Venture Fund, a company with a mission to invest in dynamic businesses with the potential for significant growth in Maine. MLTG has also been awarded a $50,000 grant for further development of the Tough Cuff from the Maine Technology Institute, an organization founded and funded by the Maine State Legislature to support Maine’s innovation economy.

The surgical expertise of the company’s founder, Dr. Lee Thibodeau, granted unique insight into the solution to the problem addressed by the Tough Cuff’s winning design. The thousands of double-glove exchanges made during Dr. Thibodeau’s surgical career to reduce the chance of microbial infection made him well aware of the sweat buildup and glove slippage that increases the chance of the transmission of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens during surgery.

Tough Cuff’s innovative design sets new standards for Level 4 gown sterility

The Tough Cuff was ingeniously engineered to mitigate those risks. A thumbhole secures the end of the surgical sleeve to the surgeon’s hand. The sleeve’s hollow-fill fibers draw sweat away from the hand to keep it cool, dry, and clean. The product’s namesake cuff is a flexible flap of durable thermoplastic polyurethane membrane welded to the sleeve. It is lifted during glove exchanges and then folded back down to be pinched between the O-rings of the inner and outer gloves, locking them in place.

MLTG’s Senior VP of Operations, Bill Kimball, notes how the company’s network of professional contacts has supported the firm’s work to get the Tough Cuff into market to save money and lives. “Our associates at the Center for Disease Control and other healthcare professionals continue to encourage final testing and production of the Tough Cuff to create the gowns destined to set a new standard for surgical care,” says Kimball. “We also look forward to working with hospital administrators and insurance companies to show how the Tough Cuff’s ability to significantly reduce the chances of pathogen infection can inspire a dramatic reduction in the chance for malpractice suits resulting from those threats to patient health. We believe that fact alone can promote the change in thinking needed to treat medical gowns less as a price-driven commodity than a critical investment in patient care with the added value of mitigating litigation risks.”

MLTG’s growth has been grounded by the person, process, and performance responsible for the company’s escalating success. Dr. Thibodeau is a nationally recognized neurosurgeon and holds multiple patents for the surgical devices he’s invented to help advance surgical techniques. His company has pioneered the development of advanced textile fibers and the manufacture of custom fabrics and garments made from them. Those products have earned the strong support of consumers, physicians, and other healthcare workers and medical industry professionals.

The company’s development of the Tough Cuff represents a shift toward the MedTech products that represent the future focus of the firm. Dr. Thibodeau shares his insight on the inspiration for that pivot and MLTG’s future planned contributions to the medical community. “Over forty years of surgical practice has shown me how far medical technology has come and the incredible potential it has to inspire further advances in our field as well. I look forward to continuing to work with my team to apply the same mix of medical experience, problem-solving persistence, and technological creativity it took to solve the fluid management problem with the glove-gown interface that medical professionals have struggled with for so long. I’m confident that triple focus will continue to yield products that can improve the safety and standards of medical care.”

About Maine-Lee Technology Group

Maine-Lee Technology Group creates groundbreaking apparel and other MedTech products developed from the medical insights of the company’s multi-patented neurosurgeon-founder, Dr. Lee Thibodeau and the technological expertise of his corporate team. Their twin perspectives yield products that advance medical professionals’ skills and standards and improve the health and safety of patients in their care. Learn more at