Dr. Elmo Agatep watched his patient with interest. Suffering from a broken foot, she left the clinic a week ago on conventional crutches. Now she was navigating his office with ease on the iWALK2.0. Dr. Agatep was understandably intrigued as he, like most medical professionals, had never seen this device before.
Dr. Agatep, MD has been practicing medicine in Southern California for the last ten years. He is board certified in Orthopedics, Sports Medicine, Family Medicine and General Practice. He has been in private practice and currently serves his patients in clinical practice in Seal Beach, California. He serves on staff at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital, Anaheim Memorial Medical Center, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, and UCLA Medical Center among others. Dr. Agatep is also the Orthopedic for team USA womens’ volleyball team. Dr. Agatep recognized the benefits of the device, not only for his elite athletes, but for all of his patients. Eager to learn more, Dr. Agatep took a novel approach to discovery – he committed to wear the device for an entire day. Having lived with the device, he became a strong advocate. We recently spoke to Dr. Agatep about his experiences with iWALK2.0.
iWALKFree – How long have you been practicing as an orthopedic?
Dr. Agatep: I’ve been in practice for over 8 years. I’ve been in private practice, hospitals and clinics. I’m also a team doctor for the USA women’s volleyball team.
iWALK: How did you first learn about the iWALK2.0?
Dr. Agatep: It literally walked into my clinic. A patient of mine, who I treated using conventional crutches, returned to my clinic on the iWALK2.0. I was quite impressed on first sight, especially with her mobility and stability. The effectiveness of the device was evident immediately.
iWALK: Had you not seen it in use, what would your reaction be if your patient asked you about the device? Let’s say they brought a brochure, or showed you our website, or brought you the device but they were not using it?
Dr. Agatep: Had I not seen it being used, I would have had some reservations about stability or biomechanics. I would have also had concerns about balance and mobility – how mobile could the patient actually be on it. Initially, I would be concerned about the patient’s safety – Is it stable? Will they fall on it? But having seen it in use, it looks quite natural – unexpectedly so. My concerns were erased by watching her use it, and my next impression was, “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?”
iWALK: What happened next?
Dr. Agatep: My next reaction was one of curiosity. I wanted to prove to myself that it would work for my patients. I figured it would become a big part of my practice, because it could treat my patient’s conditions while allowing them to maintain mobility and a normal lifestyle. So to prove that it worked, I used it myself – for two days.
Initially I adjusted it incorrectly, and it was fatiguing, but within an hour I readjusted it and the efficiency went up considerably. There was an artificial feeling to it, but it was not a problem, and I could move around freely. No, it doesn’t replace your limb, for sure, but it comes close to it.
iWALK: Compare your initial expectations with your actual experience.
Dr. Agatep: Initial expectation was that it would be uncomfortable, especially where your knee sits on it and where the straps contact your thigh, and that it would take a long time to get used to it. Even so, I still thought that it would be very effective for my patients that have off-loading injuries. So after trying it, I found that when fitted correctly, it was quite comfortable, and balance was intuitive. It was amazing, actually, how comfortable it was the longer I used it. It disappeared underneath me. It was surprising how fast I could resume normal activities when using it. I quickly adapted to day to day things without thinking about it.
iWALK: First off, thanks for making iWALK2.0 a regular part of your practice. What have you encountered in prescribing it to your patients?
Dr. Agatep: I found it to be very safe. Patients that I’ve prescribed it to have been successful. The follow up comments have all been favorable, and “Why hasn’t this been done before?” is their common response. The key thing that really makes people happy is the freedom they get from the device. Part of it is the freedom, they remain active, they are able to function, and also, it’s the amount of relief they get from the pain of the injured limb. They can focus with getting on with their daily living without focusing on the injured limb.
iWALK: What about clinical benefits?
Dr. Agatep: My observation is that muscle atrophy in patients is minimal and seems to be limited to the calf, as it’s not truly engaged. The quads and other muscles are forced to work, so atrophy is reduced. Post use of the device, they don’t need to do as much work to get back to where they were, that’s part of the beauty of the device.
iWALK: Now that you’re using iWALK2.0, how does it compare to before you prescribed it?
Dr. Agatep: In side by side comparison, I’ve seen a lot more atrophy of the quad in users of crutches and knee scooters because you’re not using them, unlike with the iWALK, where you are, constantly. Another benefit that you get with the iWALK crutch, and anecdotally that I get is from my patients is that their core muscles are engaged and have less atrophy. That’s another unexpected secondary benefit.
I definitely see a psychological benefit – less depression because the patients don’t feel so helpless. They can go to work and many still pursue their hobbies and even sports.
iWALK: The psychological benefits are that noticeable?
Dr. Agatep: It’s a novel device because it doesn’t have the stigma of crutches. People that see my patients using the iWALK2.0 get excited, unlike crutches, where their reaction is sympathy, so the pity component of seeing someone with crutches is gone. The negative social stigma of being disabled is replaced with a positive, excited reaction from onlookers. This makes the patient feel empowered, not disabled. It’s an empowering feeling that you’re not disabled. This is especially important for rehab, and we all know that the positive psychological condition and attitude of the patient is very important for rehab.
iWALK: What if we told you that you couldn’t use the iWALK2.0 in your practice anymore?
Dr. Agatep: I’d be mad! ..and quite disappointed. In the patients that I’ve used it with, as compared to others with whom I’ve used crutches or knee scooters, the iWALK crutch has made such a marked improvement in their life and resulted in shorter rehab periods. I’ve seen and experienced for myself how effective it is. It’s truly revolutionary, and has made a significant impact in my patients compliance and how quickly they heal.
iWALK: What would you like to say to your fellow physicians who read this?
Dr. Agatep: Medicine is not a stagnant discipline. You have to keep an open mind. That’s how you expand your practice. Had I not seen the iWALK in use, I would have been skeptical, as medicine has a history of trying novel therapies, not all of which are effective. The iWALK2.0 is very effective, and is a big step forward in how you can help your patients. In addition, they will be grateful to you for prescribing it.