Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably seen an advertisement on tv or the internet for this gizmo.
I was super excited when someone in my local community ordered one and then returned to Target. I watched it languish on the clearance rack until it was 80% off the original price, because I’m ok with sacrificing that amount on the alter of scientific curiosity.
When you open the box, it comes in several pieces and with some written instructions. The video instructions are much more helpful to assemble it. They’ll also give you a good idea of the WORK required to put the thing together.
It probably took me 30-45 minutes to put the thing together. (I’m not very mechanically inclined.)
Now comes the fitting.
May I reiterate, that as a physical therapist I’m trained to fit assistive devices and analyze walking patterns with assistive devices. I had a hard time with this one. It was the thigh supports that gave me the trouble– getting it angled right to where it was supportive, but not creating an inefficient gait pattern. I used a long mirror, so I could see what my leg was doing as I was walking and made adjustments as necessary. Again, a professional had a hard time getting it right the first time.
Now, to walk!
Once I set the thing up and fiddled around adjusting it some, I really liked the device. I like the hands free nature, which I could see would be very valuable to the person who needs to be able to go to work or school and be independent in doing so. This would be a lot easier doing stairs than crutches. (I lived on the second floor in college with no elevator and had to be on crutches. I left the house as little as possible, because it was so tedious.) I appreciated that the foot has a Vibram sole– the same sole as my hiking shoes. I wasn’t so sure about sit-to-stands, but this video addresses that issue.
This device is only useful for a select group of people.
You must have normal balance prior to your injury in order to be able to use this safely. iWalk defines “normal balance” as prior to injury, able to climb stairs without a rail at normal speed and able to balance on 1 foot for 30 seconds.
You can’t have an external fixator on the lower leg, as it could be misplaced with the pressure.
Be between 4’10” and 6’6″ and 275 pounds or less. Even at those heights particular leg lengths apply: upper leg 12-18″, lower leg 13.75-20″ and total leg length 25-75-38″.
And most importantly, be patient enough to put it together, fit it and gait train. Which all together took me about 1.5 hours.
Overall, I had fun being a peg-legged pirate for a day, but getting the thing together and fit appropriately was not so fun.