Anatomical Concepts (UK)
Masters of Rehabilitation Engineering

Derek Jones: Anatomical Concepts (UK) Blog

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Shopping for an Exoskeleton?

When you really think about it, purchasing a powered exoskeleton is a serious business. For most of us it would be a purchase second in value only to a house and therefore not something to take lightly. To be worthwhile, the exoskeleton has to at least make greater independence and even enhanced health a realistic possibility for the user - and for a start that will mean different things to different people.

So the question is, how can we get a grip on the potential value of purchasing something like the Indego?

When the first exoskeletons emerged a few years ago, we saw the typically polarised attitudes we often see with new emerging technology. On the one hand, overly positive and unrealistic views of what these devices would do and on the other hand exactly the opposite. Neither viewpoint is helpful in the long run.

The creators of first generation systems have a problem. They need early adopters to purchase and generate the necessary and sufficient revenue to give investors the confidence to continue the refinement and development of the products. This is a difficult balancing act and you could argue that the early adopters of the technology might not get the best deal. But without them progress halts.

Trying an Indego is a process

Trying an Indego is a process

So you want to try an Indego?

As dealers for the Indego of course we always love it when someone chooses to buy - providing that they, and us, are comfortable that the product is right for them. We would never want someone to buy something which is unsuitable because then no one is going to happy for long. Unhappy clients tend to tell others.

We do have people contact us to “try the Indego” and we have a process in place that is designed to protect the potential client (and ourselves) from the consequences of making a bad purchase.

So what’s the process?

1) Is it safe? Any of these products will have criteria and constraints for use such as user maximum height, weight etc. In addition, there will be indications and contraindications that must be considered. Before someone can hope to use the indego successfully we have to check that they would be safe to try it. In common with any of the manufacturers there are forms that can be reviewed by clinicians to verify it is going to be safe to proceed.

2) Where to try the Indego? In the UK there are three Centres that so far have invested in the Indego and have staff trained to use the Indego in therapy situations as well as assess people for personal use. These Centres are the Wellington Hospital in Central London, The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury and More Rehab Ltd in Sheffield/Doncaster.

In each facility, the physiotherapists are trained within a competency framework to work with the Indego and are independent of us - they are not sales persons are not incentivised to meet sales targets. We think with this kind of product it is important to disconnect the sales process from the client’s trial of the product.

First steps with the Indego at More Rehab

First steps with the Indego at More Rehab

3) What happens when I try the Indego? Assuming that medical clearance has been obtained and fundamental safety assured, the client will be measured and fitted for the Indego. Even at this stage it is possible that the therapist may decide it is not safe to proceed. Stop and think about it for a second. This is not a product that you just put on like a suit of clothes and away you go.

An Indego trial is more like taking the first steps to learning a new skill. You can’t go from novice to expert in a few minutes. It takes time to learn the fundamentals and plenty of practice to even become competent. Ideally, we would like the person using the Indego to do so almost without conscious thought; when the Indego becomes almost an extension of their body.

An Indego trial is therefore not a quick experience. It’s typically a few hours and what each person can learn to do in that time will depend on their physical condition. It’s going to give you a glimpse of the possibilities but it can’t possible take you to “expert user” status.

4) What happens if I purchase? Our personal users may well have had a few experiences with the Indego in a variety of environments before they purchase. If they decide to purchase they will, along with a support person, commit to 30 to 40 hours of practical training at one of the clinical centres. This training will develop the skills and confidence to use the Indego safely and effectively in everyday situations.

5) Support after purchase? Whenever possible we suggest that clients purchase a three year extended warranty on top of the standard two year period. The aim of this is to ensure that if something does go wrong with the product that the issue is promptly dealt with minimising “down-time” from the device. Clients may like additional training to enhance their abilities when the potential is there. For example, with the introduction of Advanced Gait software, some high-functioning clients will be able to take advantage fo the higher walking speeds and more fluid gait patterns that are possible with this enhancement.

If you want to learn more please contact us

IndegoDerek JonesComment