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 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 during patient treatment sessions.
Read on, and add the following tips to your routine or clinical practice to ensure safety and success with Indego this 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 Indego session!
Keeping your skin healthy is incredibly important, especially with Indego 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 Indego frequently in a long time. Regular Indego use helps toughen up skin in areas that come into contact with the device. But if you haven’t walked in Indego 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, outside edge of both feet. You are looking for looking for redness, skin irritation, or skin breakdown. Redness in these areas following Indego use is common, but as a general rule, redness is expected to disappear between Indego walking sessions. Some redness in these areas following Indego use might occur, but as a general rule, redness is expected 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 Indego again.
Ramp Up Wear Time!
Gradually increasing wear time is just as important as skin checks. If returning to Indego after a break during the winter months or a decrease in usage, begin with a goal of spending 30 minutes in Indego. The 30-minute timer begins when you tighten up the straps, and ends when Indego is removed. 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 to add 5 minutes to the total session time, 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 Indego outside. A good approach to exploring new places with Indego is to go to the location beforehand to ensure the terrain is safe for Indego use, including the capability to maneuver your assistive device. Please remember Indego 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 advances 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 Indego this year. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to us.
About the Author:
Robert McCloskey is a Physical Therapist and Indego Instructor. Robert earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Georgia Southern University, and his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Robert has a background in treating individuals with neuromuscular disorders and traumatic brain injuries, and now works with the Indego team educating clinicians and patients on the use and benefits of Indego.