Spring is near, and the warmer weather opens an abundance of opportunities to get outside! The intention of this blog is to discuss tips to help you, as an Indego Personal user, to prepare for increasing Indego use, especially if your walking time was diminished during the cold winter months. This is also to provide suggestions to clinicians on how to implement outdoor activities in the Indego exoskeleton during patient treatment sessions.
Read below, and add the following tips to your routine or clinical practice to ensure safety and success with Indego Personal this spring.
How to Safely Use Exoskeletons in Spring
Be sure to incorporate a solid stretching regimen into your routine. Muscles may become stiff or shortened during winter months when users might experience extended times sitting. Some key muscles to target in your stretching routine include your hip flexors and your hamstrings. If you are unfamiliar with these types of stretches, contact your physical therapist for a personalized stretching program to perform at home.
A standing frame is another great option for stretching legs and hips in addition to the many other benefits associated with standing frame use. Begin with 20 minutes and add an additional 5 minutes per session to improve your upright standing tolerance and to achieve a prolonged stretch of leg and hip muscles. For clinicians, if your patients are stiffer this spring from prolonged sitting during the winter months, try having them stretch or use the standing frame prior to their physical therapy session.
- Conduct Skin Checks
Keeping your skin healthy is incredibly important, especially with Indego exoskeleton use. Remember from your training that skin checks, both before and after each Indego walking session, are an essential step. This is especially true if you haven’t used the exoskeleton frequently in a long time. Regular exoskeleton use helps toughen up skin in areas that come into contact with the device. But if you haven’t walked in your exoskeleton as often during the cold months, your skin might be more sensitive when starting back on a routine.
Check the following locations before and after each Indego walking session: Tailbone, hip bones, shins, ankle bones, and outside edges of both feet. You are looking for redness, skin irritation, or skin breakdown. Redness in these areas following exoskeleton use is common, but as a general rule, redness is expected to disappear between walking sessions. You can also expect it to disappear after about 10-15 minutes of being out of the device. If you experience significant skin irritation and/or skin breakdown, please contact your physical therapist prior to using the exoskeleton again.
- Increase Exoskeleton Wear Time
Gradually increasing wear time is just as important as skin checks. If you are returning to exoskeleton use after a break during the winter months, begin with the goal of spending 30 minutes exercising. The 30-minute timer begins when you tighten up the straps and ends when you remove the exoskeleton. You can then start to build up tolerance and ensure your skin stays protected by gradually increasing your usage time. A good rule of thumb for wear time progression is adding 5 minutes to every session, assuming skin checks are clear and all, if any, redness subsides. Abiding by this rule will keep skin safe while building up tolerance.
- Scope Out Your Walking Area in Advance
As the weather starts to warm up, we encourage you to use your Indego Personal outside. A good approach to exploring new places with Indego Personal is to go to the location beforehand to ensure the terrain is safe for use, including the capability to maneuver your assistive device. Please remember Indego Personal is not safe to use on sand, loose gravel, or any terrain that is unstable or slippery. In addition, find benches, chairs, walls, and railings that may be helpful spots for taking breaks. Having a walking route in mind with these places identified in advance will be helpful if a break is needed. Paths at public parks, community centers, football field tracks, and shopping centers are likely to have many of these options easily accessible.
We hope that these tips help prepare you for warm weather adventures with Ekso Indego Personal this year. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to us.
In an expansion and growth effort, Ekso Bionics successfully acquired the Parker Hannifin Human Motion and Control Business Unit, including the Indego® exoskeleton product line. Indego exoskeletons are now available under Ekso Bionics’ offering, and if you’d like to learn more, get in touch with us today.