Anatomical Concepts (UK)
Masters of Rehabilitation Engineering

Derek Jones: Anatomical Concepts (UK) Blog

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How to buy an Indego exoskeleton

With many of the consumer products that you and I would consider purchasing, the decision is not “rocket science”. We can probably understand quite easily whether a product is something that we want or need - and then it’s down to affordablity.

However, a number of the products we deal with that are used by persons with a disability are high-tech assistive or therapy focused and in these cases, the prospective user has a number of important factors to consider before making an investment.

The Indego Exoskeleton is a great product but of course that doesn’t mean it is suitable for every person with a walking difficulty - even if they do have the funds to purchase.

As an ethical business we are careful to ensure that prior to any potential purchase there is full consideration of the likely safety and effectiveness of a product such as the Indego. In other words we separate clinical assessment and goal setting from product purchasing.

Indego assessment takes time

In the UK there are currently three clinical centres that have staff trained to work with the Indego and either provide therapy using the product or assess people as potential Indego users. These centres are independent of ourselves and are not rewarded by commissions in the event of an eventual sale. Their expertise is to guide a prospective user on what might be realistic to achieve with the Indego and train the user to achieve it.

When exoskeletons first came onto the market their assistive function was clear but this led to criticism from some quarters that these products were little more than “very expensive mobile standing frames”. The Indego has always had some advantages in that it has a combination of software and hardware that can provide a restorative as well as an assistive function. This effectively means that if the user has any preserved walking ability or an ability to recover functionally, the Indego can facilitate that. The Indego can support the user’s lost function but will only provide complete support if this is clinically necessary.

One of the strong points of the Indego is that many people can benefit from intensive therapy sessions even if it is not possible for them to consider purchasing the product. We highlighted a case recently carried out by our partners More Rehab that shows this thinking at work (See Alice’s Story)

This ability to provide both a restorative and an assistive function is important benefit of the Indego but it also complicates the potential purchasers ability to weigh up the benefit of the Indego in their situation.

The Indego’s hardware and software offer something for all levels of walking ability

A typical Indego assesssment is charged for - and this may be different from some of the other manufacturers who offer a free trial of their exoskeleton. We see an assessment as more than a “quick and cheap experience”.

The Indego is an expensive product that deserves a more thorough examination of what it can do for an individual. A typical assessment session might consist of four hours during which time the user, once safety cleared, can progress from simple standing to walking with some fluency. Much depends on the users functional level and confidence. Some of our Indego users tried the Indego on more than one occasion before electing to purchase.

Purchasing something like the Indego is potentially a life-changing event and deserves careful consideration. You should at least consider - Why would I purchase an exoskleton? What would I like to think, feel and do? Is this purchase realistic based on guidance from my clinical advisors? It is a good idea to try all of the exoskeleton systems that are available if you can.

Derek JonesComment