Toledo History: Meet Conrad Jobst the Inventor

conrad_jobstMany people recognize the name ‘Jobst’ as a brand name for compression stockings for sufferers of diseases affecting the veins in the legs. However, most people don’t know that a Toledoan invented them and his legacy has impacted the treatment of venous disease for more than 50 years.

Conrad Jobst was born in Germany and moved to the United States in 1911 to start his career in mechanical engineering. Moving to Toledo in 1913, he advanced his career in engineering by becoming chief engineer for Toledo Tap and Dye Corporation.

Conrad was a brilliant man who had a profound intellect and inquisitive nature. Throughout his life, Conrad used his knowledge and skills to develop technologies and products for industrial use. One of his early inventions was the first automatic brush-making machine. This product became the foundation for the Automatic Brush Machine Company, where Conrad served as chief engineer and vice president.

Furthermore, Conrad used his talents to help build more than just businesses; in World Wars I and II, Conrad served as a production consultant and his efforts helped develop gun sights for aerial combat as well as threading tools for automotive equipment.

A testament to his true ingenuity and diligence was the breadth of his multiple inventions, including the automobile sunroof. Conrad patented more than 40 items over his career,  many of which are still used today. However, it was his own struggle with venous disease that led to the innovative product that would come to help thousands of people.

Conrad suffered from lower extremity venous insufficiency, an affliction that occurs when the veins in the legs are not working effectively to pump blood from the legs to the heart. Instead, the blood pools in the legs, causing pain and discomfort.

Being the skilled and talented man he was, Conrad realized that the hydrostatic pressure  in a swimming pool relieved the pain and discomfort he experienced from his venous condition. He replicated the effect he felt in a swimming pool by designing a garment that he could wear all the time. The result was the first elastic stocking designed specifically to help increase blood circulation in your legs, known today as compression stockings.

Compression stockings dramatically improved Conrad’s venous condition and began to help others who were suffering from circulation problems as well. Conrad founded JOBST in 1950 and mass production of compression stockings followed. Today compression stockings continue to be prescribed by physicians around the world for their patients with venous disease.

Conrad passed away in 1957, but the legacy of his work still lives on. JOBST is the No. 1 physician-recommended brand in compression stockings, extending to nearly every continent. Not only does his tangible legacy live on, but his wife, Caroline, ensured that research into and treatment of venous disease will be continued into perpetuity. Caroline Jobst continued Conrad’s  legacy with an endowment fund to create the Jobst Vascular Institute at ProMedica Toledo Hospital and the Conrad Jobst Vascular Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. Both of these institutions continue to strive to find the best care for people suffering from venous diseases.

To learn more about the legendary Conrad Jobst, please attend our free lecture: The First 25 Years on Friday, October 3rd from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The event, presented by Anthony Comerota, MD, will take place at the ProMedica Toledo Hospital, Donald V. Kellermeyer Medical Education Center Auditorium. For additional information, please visit http://www.promedica.org/jobstlecture.

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