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Clinical Research On The iWALK Crutch

The iWALK hands-free crutch is a game changer for anyone with a non-weight bearing injury. It provides significant medical and practical advantages compared to crutches or knee scooters. But don't just take our word for it, we have independent research to back it up!


PREFERRED BY 90% OF PATIENTS

iWALK is preferred by 9 out of 10 patients which has implications in improving compliance, preventing complications and faster recovery

The iWALK is preferred by 86% of foot and ankle patients over crutches [1]. Patient satisfaction and preference determines the level patients comply to non-weight bearing recommendations [1] which is of paramount importance to achieving optimal results and prevent postoperative complications such as wound breakdown, loss of fracture fixation or hardware failure [2, 3].

ABILITY TO PERFORM DAY TO DAY ACTIVITIES

Allows hands free mobility with patients being able to do activities of daily living that can impact a patient’s wellbeing and improve compliance

Unlike crutches and knee scooters, the iWALK is a hand free mobility device. Thus, activities of daily living (ADLs and IADLs) that are impossible to do with crutches and knee scooters such as shopping, working, cooking, child care, etc. are possible with the iWALK. A randomized control trial with 80 patients with both upper and lower limb injuries showed that they were able to complete activities around the house using the iWALK [4] and patients had a more positive attitude to life due to the improved independence with the iWALK [5]. This could be just one of the reasons why the iWALK has a higher preference rate than crutches [1].

INCREASED MUSCLE ACTIVITY

Increases muscle activity (which leads to decreased muscle atrophy, increased blood flow, and faster healing)

Research proves that the iWALK provides statistically significant increases in muscle activity for the hip, quadriceps and calf muscles in the non-weight bearing leg with muscle activity patterns consistent with normal unassisted ambulation in terms of both intensity and activation times [6, 7]. On the other hand, crutches and knee scooters lead to statistically significant reductions in muscle activity in the non-weight bearing leg compared to normal unassisted ambulation [6-9]. The heightened level of muscle engagement in the non-weight bearing leg using the iWALK compared to crutches will lead to decreased atrophy, increased blood flow and enhanced healing [6].

DECREASED MUSCLE ATROPHY

Decreases muscle atrophy

The heightened recruitment of the muscles in the non-weight bearing leg when using the iWALK compared to crutches is expected to decrease the level of disuse muscle atrophy [6], based on associated research that shows the degree a muscle will atrophy is dependent on the activity of the muscle [8, 10, 11]. It is widely accepted that crutches lead to significant muscle atrophy with reductions in muscle size and strength as well as structural changes in muscle fibers from prior studies [9, 12-17].

INCREASED BLOOD FLOW

Increases blood flow (reduced risk of developing blood clots, influence bone remodeling and enhance healing)

Using the iWALK crutch leads to increased blood flow in the non-weight bearing limb. Research has shown that an iWALK provides the greatest muscle activity for the calf muscles compared to crutches and knee scooters [6, 7] and associated research has shown that the calf muscles play a vital role in blood flow [18, 19]. This is further supported by prior studies that have shown decreases in blood flow of the lower extremities for both crutches [20] and knee scooters [21]. When poor blood flow continues, it can cause blood clots in the lower extremities [18, 22] and negatively impact bone remodeling [23].

REDUCED RISK OF BLOOD CLOTS (DVT)

Reduce the risk of developing blood clots (which lead to substantial impairment and direct healthcare expenditures)

Low rates of blood flow in the lower extremities increases the risk of developing blood clots [24]. Using an iWALK can reduce the risk of developing blood clots, as demonstrated in associated research that shows muscle contractions in the calf muscles contribute to increasing blood flow [18, 19] and research that shows that an iWALK increases muscle activity for the calf muscles [6, 7]. Crutches have been shown to cause blood clots in prior research [25], while knee scooter have been associated with lower blood flow that could potentially increase the risk of developing blood clots [21]. Blood clots can lead to substantial impairment and direct healthcare expenditures [26, 27].

FASTER RECOVERY

Faster recovery that can allow quicker returns to work and reduce costs to the healthcare system

A randomized control trial conducted using 80 patients showed that patients were discharged significantly faster after using an iWALK compared with using other mobility devices [4]. The reduction in muscle atrophy and improvement in blood flow when using an iWALK will impact the total recovery time for lower limb injuries with quicker rehabilitation, enhanced healing and less cases of blood clots [6]. The nonexistence of secondary injuries associated to crutches when using an iWALK will also contribute to reducing the recovery times of lower limb injuries.

ELIMINATION OF SECONDARY INJURIES RELATED TO MOBILITY DEVICE USE

Eliminates crutch and knee scooter associated secondary injuries

Crutches lead to seven-fold increase in the force that runs through the axilla [28]. This increased force at the axilla has been shown to lead to secondary injuries such as axillary artery thrombosis [29] and crutch palsy [30]. Other complications as a result of crutch use are carpal tunnel syndrome [31] and shoulder joint degeneration [32]. Secondary injuries may also occur with knee scooters due to the increased risk of falling [33, 34]. Because there is no loading of the hands and upper extremity when using an iWALK, secondary injuries are nonexistent with the iWALK.

RETURN TO WORK SOONER

Faster recovery that can allow quicker returns to work and reduce costs to the healthcare system

A randomized control trial conducted using 80 patients showed that patients were discharged significantly faster after using an iWALK compared with using other mobility devices [4]. The reduction in muscle atrophy and improvement in blood flow when using an iWALK will impact the total recovery time for lower limb injuries with quicker rehabilitation, enhanced healing and less cases of blood clots [6]. The nonexistence of secondary injuries associated to crutches when using an iWALK will also contribute to reducing the recovery times of lower limb injuries.

REDUCED HEALTHCARE COSTS

Faster recovery that can allow quicker returns to work and reduce costs to the healthcare system

A randomized control trial conducted using 80 patients showed that patients were discharged significantly faster after using an iWALK compared with using other mobility devices [4]. The reduction in muscle atrophy and improvement in blood flow when using an iWALK will impact the total recovery time for lower limb injuries with quicker rehabilitation, enhanced healing and less cases of blood clots [6]. The nonexistence of secondary injuries associated to crutches when using an iWALK will also contribute to reducing the recovery times of lower limb injuries.

INCREASED PATIENT COMPLIANCE

Increases compliance to non-weight bearing that can allow less complications and subsequently faster recovery

The iWALK could improve patient compliance to non-weight bearing restrictions, due to prior research that shows that patients prefer an iWALK over crutches and the important role patient preference plays on patient compliance [1]. In addition to this, because patients are able to function independently using an iWALK with the ability to do activities of daily living [4], the iWALK will lead to better compliance for patients with lower limb injuries who have been known to be noncompliant with prescribed weight bearing restrictions in prior studies [2, 3, 35]. Lack of compliance may lead to complications such as wound breakdown, loss of fracture fixation or hardware failure [3].

LESS FATIGUE

Reduces the energy cost of ambulation that can allow patients to ambulate for longer durations and increase compliance

Increased physiological demand has been shown to be an important factor in discontinuance and noncompliance to weight bearing restrictions with the use of assistive devices [36]. Therefore, mobility devices designed to assist ambulation should keep energy expenditure to a minimum while still allowing normal walking speeds. Prior research shows that the physiological demand and exertion are lowest for the iWALK compared to crutches and knee scooters, while all three mobility devices have similar self-selected walking speeds [1, 37]. This is further supported in prior studies where crutches have been shown to lead to significantly higher energy costs compared to normal unassisted ambulation [38-44].


References

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  2. Chiodo, C.P., et al., Patient compliance with postoperative lower-extremity non-weight-bearing restrictions. JBJS, 2016. 98(18): p. 1563-1567.
  3. Gershkovich, G., et al., Weight bearing compliance after foot and ankle surgery. Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics, 2016. 1(1): p. 2473011416S00089.
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  5. Barth, U., et al., Alternative Mobilization by Means of a Novel Orthesis in Patients after Amputation. Zeitschrift für Orthopädie und Unfallchirurgie, 2019. 158(01): p. 75-80.
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  7. Sanders, M., et al., The influence of ambulatory aid on lower-extremity muscle activation during gait. Journal of sport rehabilitation, 2018. 27(3): p. 230-236.
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“It has not been often in my 25 years of orthopaedic practice that I have come across a device that is straightforward in its concept, simple in its construction and use, and yet proves so effective. I love smart, well thought-out design and the iWALKfree hands-free crutch seemed to tick all of the above boxes”

A Hands-free Approach to Patient Mobility: Presenting the Case for a Hands-free Crutch

D. Parker
Senior Orthopaedic Practitioner at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital

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The Hands Free Crutch was associated with a better overall musculoskeletal functional assessment score, better coping, a trend towards better lower extremity function, and with performing activities around the house. The Hands Free Crutch was well accepted, safe, and easy to use. A clear trend for better function with the Hands Free Crutch was seen.

Use of a Hands-Free Crutch in Patients with Musculoskeletal Injuries

Rohit Rambani, Muhammad Saleem Shadid, and Surinder Goyal
International Journal of Rehabilitation Research

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