The iWALK crutch provides significant advantages compared to crutches or knee scooters
- PREFERRED BY 90% OF PATIENTS
- ABILITY TO PERFORM DAY TO DAY ACTIVITIES
- INCREASED MUSCLE ACTIVITY
- DECREASED MUSCLE ATROPHY
- INCREASED BLOOD FLOW AND DECREASED VENOUS STASIS
- FASTER RECOVERY, REDUCED HEALTHCARE COSTS AND FASTER RETURNS TO WORK
- ELIMINATION OF SECONDARY INJURIES RELATED TO MOBILITY DEVICE USE
- INCREASED PATIENT COMPLIANCE
- LESS FATIGUE
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Patient Preference and Physical Demand for Hands-Free Single Crutch vs. Standard Axillary Crutches in Foot and Ankle Patients
Kevin D. Martin, DO, Alicia M. Unangst, DO, Jeannie Huh, MD and Jamie Chisholm, MBA
Summary: This study proved that 9 out of 10 patients prefer a hands-free crutch (iWALK) over crutches. Patients experienced less discomfort and exertion when using the hands-free crutch compared with crutches.
“The Hands-Free Single Crutch (HFSC) was preferred by 86% of patients. Significantly lower dyspnea scores (2.8 vs 5.3; P<0.001), fatigue scores (2.4 vs 5.5; P<0.001), pre-activity and post-activity change in heart rate (28 vs 46 bpm; P<0.001), and mean post-activity heart rate (107 vs 122 bpm; P<0.001) were found using the HFSC compared with the Standard Axillary Crutches (SACs)… SACs have demonstrated a substantial energy cost compared with normal gait, and they have been also been associated with injury… Selecting an appropriate assistive device is multifactorial and should be patient specific to improve patient compliance and optimize mobility and safety… Understanding physiologic cost, function, fall risk, and overall patient satisfaction could aid healthcare providers in determining an appropriate ambulatory device that is patient specific.”
Comparison of Lower Extremity EMG Muscle Testing with Hands-Free Single Crutch vs Standard Axillary Crutches
Cuyler Dewar, MS, and Kevin Martin, DO, FAAOS, DAL
Summary: With standard crutches there is near zero muscle activity in the injured leg. With a hands-free crutch the leg muscles are firing similar to normal human gait. Electromyography (EMG) proved that there is muscle engagement in the injured lower leg while using the iWALK, which could reduce the atrophy generally seen with crutches and improve blood return that could reduce the risk of developing blood clots. These benefits will allow faster recovery times for people with lower extremity injuries
“The Hands-Free Single Crutch (HFSC) subjects demonstrated increased muscle recruitment and intensity while maintaining cyclic contractions consistent with bipedal gait pattern. Standard Axillary Crutches (SAC) demonstrated less recruitment and intensity with an isometric pattern regardless of the phase of gait… SAC use can result in muscle atrophy and decreased blood flow… When muscle activity is decreased in a nonweightbearing lower extremity, the risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis will increase… The rectus femoris and gluteus maximus had statistically significant increases in mean muscle activity and MVIC percentage, while the lateral gastrocnemius showed statistically significant increase in mean muscle activity and the vastus lateralis showed a statistically significant increase in MVIC percentage. The heightened recruitment of these muscles while using the HFSC will potentially translate to decreased levels of muscle atrophy during the nonweightbearing period after a lower extremity injury. Reduced muscle atrophy will potentially allow for quicker rehabilitation secondary to retained balance and proprioception. The heightened cyclic muscle contractions will also facilitate vascularization of the lower extremity, while reducing potentially slowed venous return.”
Use of a Hands-Free Crutch in Patients with Musculoskeletal Injuries
R. Rambani, M. S. Shadid, and S. Goyal
Summary: Patients that use a hands-free crutch are discharged significantly faster than patients who do not use it.
“The average stay of the patients using a hands-free crutch (HFC) was 2.3 days, with a range of 1-5 days. This was much shorter compared with the stay for patients who had similar injuries and had decided not to use this crutch: 4-14 days (average, 6.7 days). This difference was statistically significant (P=0.05)… This not only helps in decreasing the burden on the hospital in terms of the expenses of hospital stay, but also helps the patient to be independent quickly, after an injury… The HFC was associated with a better overall musculoskeletal functional assessment score (P<0.05), better coping, a trend towards better lower extremity function, and with performing activities around the house. The HFC was well accepted, safe, and easy to use. A clear trend for better function with the HFC was seen. SF-36 physical function tended to be better with the HFC (P<0.05)… The HFC is a viable alternative for patients required to be nonweightbearing during ambulation.”
Alternative Mobilization by Means of a Novel Orthosis in Patients after Amputation
U. Barth, K. Wasseroth, Z. Halloul, F. Meyer
Summary:Patients using an iWALK exhibited improvements in their ability to perform activities of daily living. The iWALK was shown to provide emotional and psychological benefits and was well accepted.
“The successful application of the “hand free” device “iWALK2.0” under the listed clinical condition thus suggest that it is a clear alternative of postoperative rehabilitation in the diagnosis of a surgically treated diabetic foot gangrene after minor amputation ……in addition to giving the patient as much independence as possible, this also made the patient feel positive about life again….overall the iWALK orthosis was considered by the patient to be of a high quality and comfortable, and it was completely accepted, which also helped to motivate the patient with mobilization.”
Pedal Musculovenous Pump Activation Effectively Counteracts Negative Impact of Knee Flexion on Human Popliteal Venous Flow
C. W. Reb, E. T. Haupt, R. A. Vander Griend, and G. C. Berlet
Summary: Crutches with slight knee flexion leads to the greatest decrease in blood flow compared to upright and knee scooter positioning. Muscle activity has been shown to have a greater impact on blood flow than knee flexion angle which has implications in blood clotting.
“There was a significant decrease in pedal musculovenous pump (PMP) time-averaged peak velocity (TAPV) when comparing upright to crutch positioning, and this decrease was slightly more when comparing upright to knee scooter positioning (knee at 90°)… Knee flexion was found to have a variable but generally small negative effect on popliteal venous flow. The trend was toward greater flow impedance with increasing knee flexion… PMP activation where permissible is a potentially valuable venous stasis countermeasure to consider.”
Skeletal muscle responses to lower limb suspension in humans
B. M. Hather, G. R. Adams, P. A. Tesch, and G. A. Dudley
Summary: Crutches lead to decreases in muscle size.
“Magnetic resonance images pre- and post-ULLS showed that thigh muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) decreased (P less than 0.05) 12% in the suspended left lower limb… The three vastus muscles showed similar decreases of approximately 16% (P less than 0.05). The apparent atrophy in the leg was due mainly to reductions in CSA of the soleus (-17%) and gastrocnemius muscles (-26%). Biopsies of the left vastus lateralis pre- and post-ULLS showed a 14% decrease (P less than 0.05) in average fiber CSA. The decrease was evident in both type I (-12%) and II (-15%) fibers.”
Adaptations to unilateral lower limb suspension in humans
G. A. Dudley, M. R. Duvoisin, G. R. Adams, R. A. Meyer, A. H. Belew, and P. Buchanan
Summary: Reductions in muscle strength occur after 6 weeks of crutch use.
“Strength of the KE of the suspended left limb was reduced (p less than 0.05) 21 and 15%, respectively, after ULLS and 4 d later. Average muscle CSA of the left KE decreased (p less than 0.05) 16%… Average muscle CSA of the KE of the suspended limb was 17% less (p less than 0.05) than that of the non-suspended limb. Average muscle CSA of the AE, likewise, was smaller (18%, p less than 0.05) in the left than right leg after ULLS. Maximal integrated EMG of VL and overall mean power frequency of GM and SL for submaximal isometric actions were both decreased (p less than 0.05) post-ULLS.”
Early structural adaptations to unloading in the human calf muscles
O. R. Seynnes, C. N. Maganaris, M. D. de Boer, P. E. di Prampero, and M. V. Narici
Summary: Using crutches cause structural changes in muscle fibers that reduce muscle function.
“Soleus (SOL), gastrocnemius medialis (GM) and lateralis muscle (GL) volume decreased by 5%, 6% and 5%, respectively (P < 0.05), on day 14, and by 7% (SOL), 10% (GM) and 6% (GL) on day 23. In GL, pennation angle and fascicle length were reduced by 3% (P < 0.05) and 2% (NS), respectively, on day 14, and by 5% (P < 0.05) and 4% (P < 0.05), respectively, on day 23. Consequently, GL physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA) declined by 3% (P < 0.05) on day 14, but did not further decrease on day 23. Similarly, the 7% (P < 0.05) loss in GL force/PCSA observed on day 14 persisted until the end of the unloading period.”
Time course of muscular, neural and tendinous adaptations to 23 day unilateral lower-limb suspension in young men
M. D. de Boer, C. N. Maganaris, O. R. Seynnes, M. J. Rennie, and M. V. Narici
Summary: Crutches lead to reductions in tendon collagen synthesis. This can influence the ability to transfer force from muscle contractions to skeleton.
“After 14 and 23 days (i) knee extensor torque decreased by 14.8 +/- 5.5% (P < 0.001) and 21.0 +/- 7.1% (P < 0.001), respectively; (ii) voluntary activation did not change; (iii) knee extensor cross-sectional area decreased by 5.2 +/- 0.7% (P < 0.001) and 10.0 +/- 2.0% (P < 0.001), respectively; fascicle length decreased by 5.9% (n.s.) and 7.7% (P < 0.05), respectively, and by 3.2% (P < 0.05) and 7.6% (P < 0.01); (iv) tendon stiffness decreased by 9.8 +/- 8.2% (P < 0.05) and 29.3 +/- 11.5% (P < 0.005), respectively, and Young’s modulus by 9.2 +/- 8.2% (P < 0.05) and 30.1 +/- 11.9% (P < 0.01), respectively, with no changes in the controls. Hence, ULLS induces rapid losses of knee extensor muscle size, architecture and function.”
Bone loss from the human tibia epiphysis during 24 days of unilateral lower limb suspension
J. Rittweger, K. Winwood, O. Seynnes, M. de Boer, D. Wilks, R. Lea, M. Rennie, and M. Narici
Summary: Crutches lead to bone loss comparable to those seen with bed rest. Losses in bone mineral content can result in decreased bone strength and increased risk of fracture as well as side effects such as high calcium levels in the blood and kidney stones.
“After 21 days of unilateral lower limb suspension (ULLS), bone mineral content of the peripheral portion of the epiphysis of the suspended tibia was reduced by 0.89 ± 0.48% (from 280.9 ± 34.5 to 278.4 ± 34.2 mg mm−1, P<0.001)… In the peripheral epiphyseal portion, significant bone loss (by 0.32 ± 0.54%, P = 0.045) occurred as early as day 7 of ULLS… Our findings suggest that in its extent bone loss in ULLS resembles the bone loss induced by bed rest.”
One-leg inactivity induces a reduction in mitochondrial oxidative capacity, intramyocellular lipid accumulatio and reduced insulin signaling upon lipid infusion: a human study with unilateral limb suspension
L. Bilet, E. Phielix, T. van de Weijer, A. Gemmink, M. Bosma, E. Moonen-Kornips, J. A. Jorgensen,G. Schaart, D. Zhang, K. Meijer, M. Hopman, M. K. C. Hesselink, D. M. Ouwens, G. I. Shulman, V. B. Schrauwen-Hinderling, P. Schrauwen
Summary: Crutches lead to low mitochondrial oxidative capacity and reduced insulin sensitivity that are common denominators of chronic metabolic disorders, like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“In vivo, mitochondrial oxidative capacity, assessed by phosphocreatine (PCr)-recovery half-time, was lower in the inactive vs active leg. Ex vivo, palmitate oxidation to 14CO2 was lower in the suspended leg vs the active leg; however, this did not result in significantly higher [14C]palmitate incorporation into triacylglycerol. The reduced mitochondrial function in the suspended leg was, however, paralleled by augmented intramyocellular lipid content in both musculus tibialis anterior and musculus vastus lateralis, and by increased membrane bound protein kinase C (PKC) θ. Finally, upon lipid infusion, insulin signalling was lower in the suspended vs active leg… This demonstrates the importance of mitochondrial oxidative capacity and muscle fat accumulation in the development of insulin resistance in humans.”
Impact of knee scooter flexion position on venous flow rate
D. J. Ciufo, MD, M. R. Anderson, DO, and J. F. Baumhauer, MD, MPH
Summary: Knee scooters demonstrate a significant decrease in blood flow rate. Decreased blood flow is a known risk factor of blood clots.
“Measurements of subjects while standing and on the knee scooter demonstrated a significant decrease in mean velocity (6.5 vs 3.2 cm/s, P < .01) and volumetric flow rate (227.8 vs 106.2 mL/min, P < .01) while subjects were using the scooter… Our findings demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in volumetric flow rate in subjects using a knee scooter device with a flexed knee… Suggesting that the scooter could pose a risk of DVT formation.”
Energy cost of ambulation with crutches
S. V. Fisher and R. P. Patterson
Summary: Crutches increase the energy needed to ambulate as compared to normal walking.
“The energy cost (oxygen consumption) VO2.wt-1 (ml.min-1.kg-1) of ambulating with underarm crutches compared to normal walking was approximately twice as great. The heart rate (HR) and VO2 for any given rate of vertical rise tested was less with crutch stair climbing than with crutch walking. There was no difference in VO2 or HR when ambulating with underarm compared to forearm (Lofstrand) crutches.”
Post-Operative Use of the Knee Walker After Foot and Ankle Surgery, A Retrospective Study
Jane Yeoh MD FRCSD, David Ruta MD, David Richardson, MD, Susan Ishikawa MD, Benjamin Gear MD, Dlayton Bettin MD
Summary: Knee scooters were shown to lead to a significant number of falls with a high percentage of knee scooter users falling multiple times.
“The goal of this study is to quantify and describe patient use of knee walkers after foot and ankle surgery in the group practice of foot and ankle surgeons at multiple sites and a single institution. Primary endpoints include occurrence of falls, frequency of falls, and injury……..44% fell while using the knee walker, and nearly two-thirds (65%) of those who fell reported multiple falls….”
Prospective Clinical Evaluation Comparing Standard Axillary Crutches versus the Hands Free Crutch
A Dalton, D.Maxwell, C.M. Borkhoff, H.J. Kreder
University of Toronto, Sunnybrook & Women’s College Health Sciences Centre
Summary: Patients experience better overall function when they were able to use their hands while being non-weight bearing for lower extremity injuries with the hands-free crutch.
“Activities of daily living were easier to accomplish with the HFC (p=0.07). None of the patients found the HFC to be uncomfortable, while 2/6 found the SAC to be uncomfortable… The HFC was associated with a better overall MFA score (p<0.05), better coping (p<0.05), and a trend toward better lower extremity function and activities around the house (p=0.07). SF-36 physical function tended to be better with the HFC (p=0.08) in addition to SF-36 vitality (p=0.07). The HFC was well-accepted, safe and easy to use. There was a clear trend for better function with the HFC.”
Evaluation of Crutch Energetics Using Standard and Hands Free Crutches
A.Nagpurkar, A. Troelier
University of Guelph, Clinical Biomechanics
Summary: Crutches lead to higher energy expenditure compared to a hands-free crutch.
“The primary purpose of this study was to compare the two-dimensional mechanical energetics of normal walking, swing-through gait with underarm crutches and a novel “hands-free” crutch. The crutch demonstrated the highest energy inefficiency followed by the hands-free crutch, compared to normal walking. This trend was expected since previous swing-through crutch studies have indicated significant increases in energy compared to normal walking.”
A Hands-free Approach to Patient Mobility: Presenting the Case for a Hands-free Crutch
D. Parker, J. Davis
Summary: A hands-free crutch improves compliance to non-weight bearing recommendations as compared to crutches.
“Crutches can prove awkward and painful for many patients and offers only limited mobility, particularly on stairs. This sometimes causes the patient to ‘cheat’ by putting weight on the affected limb from time to time or discarding their crutches before the required period outlined by their consultant / practitioner… Not only is the resulting lack of mobility frustrating for the patient, crutches may also result in a prolonged hospital stay, which is a drain on resources and may even affect the patient’s feelings of well-being, and in turn, hold back their recovery… With a hands-free crutch, they can, for the most part, get on with life while being NWB, thus their injuries heal which speeds up their recovery by improving their feelings of well-being. The hands-free crutch allows the injured lower leg to be rested on a moulded shelf and strapped into position. This means that the device actively ensures that patients follow their NWB instruction and do not set back their recovery putting weight on the affected leg.”
Mobility Device Use in the United states – Functional Limitations of Crutch Users
H. Stephen Kaye, T. Kang, M. P. LaPlante
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Disability Statistics Report 14
Summary: Crutch users require assistance in performing activities of daily living (ADLs and IADLs).
“81.8% of crutch users report functional limitation… A majority of crutch users have instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) limitations (62.2%), most of whom need assistance (55.7%).”
Comparison of Subjective and Physical Function Outcomes Using Axillary Crutches and a “Hands-Free Crutch”, in Comparison to No Crutch, for Mobility
G. A. Lim, T. D. MacLeaod
California State University, Sacramento Department of Physical Therapy
Summary: Functional outcomes were better using the hands-free crutch compared to crutches and was preferred over crutches.
“During the stair climbing test and timed-up-and-go test, subjects trended towards being faster with the hands-free crutch than the axillary crutches… Functional outcomes were better using the hands-free crutch in comparison to the more standard axillary crutches while performing clinical outcome measures of activity…The majority of subjects preferred the hands-free crutch while performing the stair climbing test and 6-minute-walk-test.”