FAQ About the iWalk Crutch
If you’re like most people with lower leg injuries that need to be non-weight bearing, then the answer is most likely YES! But the iWALK 2.0, like other alternatives to conventional crutches, does not work for 100% of cases. Before you order iWALK 2.0 crutch, please review the “Can I Use it?” section of this website.
The short answer is NO, there are no age limits for using the iWALK2.0. But there’s more to it, so continue reading.
We used to suggest an age limit of 12 to 65 for the original iWALK Free generation 1 crutch. But with the new iWALK2.0 and it’s enhanced stability and ease of use, we’ve found that using age as a factor was incorrectly disqualifying too many people who could use the device. So we’ve changed our thinking entirely, and now, we no longer look at age, instead, we’ve adopted ABILITY LIMITS. What does this mean? “Ability Limit” means that as long as you have average strength and average mobility prior to your injury and you fit in with the other parameters covered in the “Can I Use It?” page you are a great candidate for the iWALK2.0. There are plenty of people over the age of 65 that have average strength and average mobility and would do great on the device. There are also people under the age of 65 that don’t have average strength and mobility that shouldn’t use the device. It all depends on who the person is and what their abilities are.
A good rule of thumb is if you can ascend and descend stairs without requiring the hand rail for balance or support, then you can iWALK.
-Harrison Ford, Age 73
-John, Age 72
Possibly. We wish we could give you a better answer, however, with the constantly changing climate of health insurance, there is no simple answer. Coverage for traditional crutch alternatives depends on your insurance carrier, your physician, where you live and other factors over which we have no control. Check with your physician and insurance company to find out if the device is covered and what percentage or amount they will pay. You can also take a more proactive approach. Administering your own claim is not difficult, and we have had many customers who choose this route and are successful. To make things easier, we’ve provided step by step instructions which you can find by clicking here (link to the new insurance page). Typically iWALKFree will be classified under the DME (Durable Medical Equipment) portion of your insurance policy, however, there are many exceptions. When making inquiries to your physician or insurance company, you will want to provide them with our product code, which is HCPCS E0118.
For more information, please visit the Insurance page of our website, or check with your local retailer or distributor.
iWALK 2.0 is available through many retail outlets referred to as DME (Durable Medical Equipment) or HME (Home Medical Equipment) outlets. We’re always updating our dealer network listing (by the way, if you’re a dealer, please contact us so we can include you on our listing) so you can more quickly find your iWALKFree. If a local retailer near you isn’t familiar with iWALK 2.0, please have them call us and we can arrange your purchase through them. There are also numerous online retailers of the iWALK 2.0 crutch.
Find a local dealer by clicking here.
Our first priority is to make sure that you have a fast, convenient way to get the iWALKFree. We understand that many of our customers have an unexpected injury, and getting their iWALK crutch immediately is essential. If the standard retail or online outlets are not convenient for you, we offer USA and Canadian residents the ability to purchase the device directly from us – simply visit our shopping cart page (link to cart) or call us (link to contact page – phone number section) to place an order. Shipment is generally same day and can ship from our warehouses in Toronto, Canada or Los Angeles, California.
For customers outside of the USA and Canada, please contact your country’s distributor to arrange your purchase. You can find them in the Buy section of our website.
Normally you can use iWALK2.0 with a cast or boot without any problems. But in some situations with boots that are high on your shin, you can develop a painful “hot spot” at the upper edge of the boot or cast. We’re going to show you why this happens, and how to easily fix it.
Figure 1 shows where a painful hot spot can occur with some boots or casts.
Without a cast or boot, the front of your shin contacts the knee platform uniformly as shown by the dotted line above.
Some boots or casts cause the shin above the boot or cast to be elevated so it doesn’t contact the Knee Platform. This concentrates most of your weight to the upper edge of the boot, which can result in a sore, tender area. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution.
Simply fill the unsupported gap with additional padding. You can use various foams, a folded hand towel or other means to build up this area.
Build it up a bit higher than you think you’ll need – the foam will compress to the correct height. Experiment with what works best for your particular boot or cast. A quick fix is to purchase a replacement Knee Platform Pad and cut it to the correct length. The peel and stick backing makes installation very quick and easy.
Although uncommon, sometimes it helps to add some extra padding at the back of the Knee Platform also. Try different combinations until you find the one that you like best.
Some boots have adjustable air bladders or other hardware mounted on the front of the boot. This hardware can sometimes interfere with proper interaction between the Knee Platform and the boot.
The solution is to disable the air bladder or obtain a boot that has the hardware mounted on the side. Ideally you have a semi-smooth surface on the front of the boot.
No. There is a common misconception that you are kneel on your knee (maybe that’s why the word is “knee-l”) when using iWALK 2.0, but you don’t. When you use the iWALK 2.0, only your shin comes in contact with the knee platform (perhaps we should have called it the shin platform?) When the knee is bent 90 degrees, the patellar region is not in contact with the platform and thus does not bear any direct weight when using the iWALK 2.0.
That said, a small percentage of people may experience pain just below the knee, on the upper part of the tibia. To learn more about this condition and how to solve it, click here.
Yes. Navigating stairs on conventional crutches is dangerous and strenuous, but taking stairs is one thing that you can do with your iWALK 2.0 crutch that you can’t do with a knee scooter or conventional crutches.
Nothing lasts forever, but your iWALKFree will last a long, long time…probably much longer than the time you will need to recover. The most common things to wear out are the knee platform pad, the thigh saddle pads or the rubber foot tread. But fear not. Replacements for all of the parts of the iWALK 2.0 are available from us.
Yes! But if the height difference is more than 1/2 inch, you’ll want to adjust the height of the knee platform and the thigh straps. Luckily we’ve thought of this, so it’s quick and easy to make height adjustments.
Yes. The special padding used on your iWALK 2.0 is hypoallergenic and FDA and CE approved to come in contact with your skin.
Yes, but you’ll need ample space in front of your chair for the beam below your knee to extend. If this is an issue, we’ve designed iWALK 2.0 to be easy and quick to put on and take off.
Most often the answer is yes. If the broken bone is in your foot or ankle, almost certainly you can use iWALK 2.0. If in your fibula, then it’s also very likely. If you have a broken tibia, then you probably cannot use iWALK 2.0 but we’ve seen many instances where this was still possible. In all cases where there are fractures, you need to check with your physician before using iWALK 2.0.
A small minority of people need augmentation of the padding under the area just below the knee cap. You can accomplish this a couple of ways. First, you can simply take a wash cloth or small hand towel, fold it over a few times and use that on top of the existing padding. You can also purchase a second pad and stack it directly on top of the existing pad. The new pads have peel and stick application, so it is a very easy fix. If you are in the US you can purchase a new pad here.
Answer: Absolutely- in fact, the iWALK2.0 is an everyday item for many BK amputees who use it in common situations when they don’t want to don their prosthetic leg. Examples are showering, short trips, at the gym, beach etc. iWALK2.0 is commonly used as a prosthetic training device for new amputees who are learning to walk on a prosthetic or for those who cannot yet tolerate a prosthetic limb. Also, if your prosthetic limb isn’t available, for example, if it’s getting repaired, the iWALK2.0 is your best substitute.
A commonly overlooked feature of the iWALK2.0 is that the mounts for the calf strap are free to slide forward and back on the “rails” which are integral to the side of the knee platform. This was done so that the user could position the strap in different locations to accommodate different conditions, casts, boots, etc. For amputees, this feature is key as it allows forward placement of the strap to accommodate residual limbs as short as four inches.
Click to see an independent video review of the iWALK2.0 by a BK amputee:
To maximize stiffness, the front face of the Knee Platform, which spans between the two vertical aluminum tubes, was designed to be straight across the front of the knee platform. We consulted well established anthropomorphical databases to make certain there was clearance for the knee, but in rare circumstances the knee does contact the upper edge of this section, resulting in discomfort. The best solution is to remove some of this material, as it really isn’t needed – the Knee Platform is plenty stiff. In fact, at the time of the writing of this FAQ, we are implementing a running change to do just that.
So if the edge of the knee platform (located in between the two vertical alloy tubes) is straight across, you can simply remove some material by using a file, grinder, dremel, etc. We agree that this isn’t entirely elegant, but it does solve the problem, and it won’t hurt your crutch at all. Just remove a little bit of the material, starting at the center, until you have enough clearance that your knee no longer makes contact. It’s easy, and shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes to accomplish. Here is a picture to demonstrate this.
We are sorry to impose on you to make this modification, but we want to keep you comfortably iWALKing throughout your non-weight bearing period.
Another solution is increase the thickness of the knee platform pad (the one that you kneel on). This raises your leg and may provide the additional clearance you need. All you have to do is stack the new pad on top of the old one. The pad comes with a peel and stick adhesive, so installation is quick and easy. https://store.iwalk-free.com/Spare-Part–Knee-Platform-Pad-Kit_p_21.html
If the area just below the kneecap (tibial tuberocity) is sore, try giving it a couple days. Most people who report initial discomfort find that it resolves itself within a day or two. If that doesn’t work we’ve found that a second pad, stacked on top of the existing pad, solves the problem. You can purchase the extra pad directly through our website here. The pad has a peel and stick application, so doubling them up is quick and easy. So why don’t we make the pads thicker? We could, but the connection between your leg and the crutch is crucial– since your human foot is no longer in contact with the ground, you gain feel and control from your shin, so the less padding, the better. We have found that our 13mm pad is the best compromise for the vast majority of people, however, one size fits all is virtually impossible, so fortunately purchasing a supplemental pad is a quick, easy, inexpensive fix. If you prefer, you can fold up a common hand towel and achieve the same thing, but it won’t be as professional looking.
The rubber that we use in our treads is about the same durometer as the tread on a tennis shoe, and has equivalent grip. That said, unlike a human foot, the iWALK foot does not have either fine motor control or the ability to flex at the ankle. As such, the surface area presented by our crutch will not always be equivalent to the human foot, and since traction and surface area are related, an iWALK foot, despite similar material, can have less traction than a human foot. Hard, slippery surfaces such as tile, polished hard wood, marble, etc., especially when wet, are slip and fall hazards regardless of the footwear, including iWALK2.0 treads. These surfaces are also very slippery to conventional crutch tips, which have even less surface area and are controlled by arms, not legs.
So can an iWALK2.0 slip on hard, slippery surfaces? Yes, of course. But so can a standard shoe or, and especially, a conventional crutch tip. Just as with regular shoes, caution must be exercised on any slippery surface, especially when wet. Caution and good judgment must be your guide in such situations.
One tip we can provide is that if the iWALK2.0 is brand new, the user can proactively scuff up the bottom of the treads. This typically happens rapidly in normal use. As the tread leaves the mold, the surface can be quite smooth, and just like sanding a piece of wood to make paint adhere, a bit of surface roughness assists in traction for the iWALK2.0 tread (and any tread for that matter). So if your iWALK2.0 feels slippery on any surface, try scuffing up the bottom of the treads and carefully try it again to see if things improve.
27″ at the very top of your thigh is the largest that we would recommend for a couple reasons. First, and most important, going beyond the 27″ maximum can make it more difficult to tighten the straps as much as is necessary for proper function. Second, the quick release buckles on the straps might not function optimally because you may not be able to loosen the straps enough to allow easy engagement and disengagement. We have seen people use the iWALK2.0 with up to a 29″ thigh, but you need to be aware and accepting of the possible functional compromises.
The treads are made from material which has about the same traction as a tennis shoe in wet or dry conditions. Because you cannot articulate your knee or ankle in the iWALK, surface area on various terrains can be reduced, so some caution should be exercised. One thing to remember is that the traction and control using the iWALK2.0 will be substantially better than conventional crutches. In the event of an off balance incident, you will have much better recovery potential with a crutch that utilizes your leg than with conventional crutches which use your arms.
In rare instances the iWALK2.0 can cause localized soreness in the tibial tuberocity, which is the area of the shin directly below the knee.
For most people, the transition from the knee to the shin (tibia) is fairly straight, but some people have a pronounced bump. In extreme cases, the size of this protrusion is more than the standard foam padding on the iWALK2.0 can support, which can result in a localized painful “hot spot”.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution – just augment the existing foam near the front of the crutch to accommodate the condition. You can purchase a replacement pad from us and simply install it on top of the existing pad, or you can also try some other readily available remedies, such as a folded hand towel, inexpensive gardening knee pads found at home improvement stores, etc. To gain a better understanding of the situation and the solution, see our diagrams below.
We could simply use a thicker pad to accommodate everyone, but we don’t – and here’s why. The connection between the leg and the crutch is crucial for feel and control. Basically, you want the iWALK crutch to be an integral part of your leg. Having no padding would be the ideal, but it would be too uncomfortable. So we intentionally use the minimum amount of padding to provide the best compromise between comfort and control.
We’ve used industry standard studies to determine the sizing range for the iWALK2.0. That said, humans come in all sizes and shapes, so there will always be rare instances where the iWALK won’t fit people even though they fall inside our size range.
Leg length is what matters for sizing the iWALK crutch. But nobody knows their leg lengths, so we use height as a starting point. The industry studies we use cover 95% of the human population, so what that means is that at the far extents of our size range (4’10” and 6’6”), there’s a 95% chance the iWALK will fit. As you move further from the minimum / maximum range, the greater the chance that the iWALK will fit. In fact, we know that the iWALK will fit people that are shorter or taller than our minimum/maximum requirements.
We provide a leg length chart that details the requirements for both upper and lower leg length. This is the only way to be 100% certain that the iWALK2.0 will fit.
For most people, pain or fatigue in the unaffected leg is due to two possible issues:
1. Incorrect adjustment. Proper fit is everything. The crutch needs to become an extension of your leg, which means height (both above the knee platform and below it), vertical alignment and proper strap tension (tight!!!) need to be correct. We show you how to achieve this in our instruction video, shown here.
2. Another common issue is not fully committing your weight to the crutch. This typically happens during learning, and goes away when you gain proficiency. In normal human gait, 40% of the time you are putting all your weight on only one foot. This happens when you ‘toe-off’ with your back foot and bring it back to the front. At this point, you have all your weight committed to the other foot. When using the crutch, it’s normal for beginners to not commit all their weight, and they rush to get the good foot back on the ground. This over-recruits the good leg, which can result in unnatural gait adaptations, which, in turn, recruits muscles that are normally dormant or lightly utilized during normal gait. This can cause fatigue or pain.
The iWALK2.0 works best if you treat it like it’s a normal leg. The less you try to adapt, the better it works. You need to trust it. With time and increased proficiency, your gait will become more normal, and the fatigue and/or pain will diminish.
If this does not solve your problem, then contact us so we can troubleshoot your specific case.