Exoskeletons in medicine

    The first comment on my previous post about robotics in medicine was a request (or question) to write about used exoskeletons.

    What is an exoskeleton? This is the "external skeleton", which due to the frame increases the strength of a person. He must repeat biomechanics, which will allow him to proportionally increase strength during movements. Among the applications of exoskeletons are military affairs, agriculture, and medicine.

    About such developments in the medical field - I ask for a habracat.



    First exoskeleton


    First, a little history. Like many inventions, the exoskeleton came to us from the military sphere. The first prototype was developed by General Electric and the U.S. Army in the 1960s. It looks impressive, doesn't it? The effort that you use when lifting four and a half kilograms, he transformed into 110 kg.

    But he had two minuses: this is a weight of 680 kg and the inability to compare movement with human movement. That is, he did not receive feedback from the person after the start of movement.





    Then repeatedly developed exoskeletons for the army. After all, they can greatly increase the carrying capacity of one soldier so that he can take with him a larger machine gun and equipment on the regiment.





    And who else needs to increase strength? Those who have too little of it. Those who are paralyzed and cannot walk on their own. Such projects can help them.

    Exoskeleton for a nurse


    Who, if not the Japanese, should come up with exoskeletons to care for the elderly? Only in this case is it also a concern for the young - for nurses who have to raise and transfer patients. The purpose of such an exoskeleton, as well as the Ribo robot, in shifting.

    Power Assist Suit in Japan introduced in the 1990s.







    Later in Japan, they introduced HAL - an exoskeleton cyber suit. Initially, it was designed specifically for lifting and moving patients. In addition, he could help elderly and disabled people move independently.





    Rewalk


    The US Food and Drug Administration only registered the first exoskeleton for the rehabilitation of patients with spinal injuries only this summer.

    ReWalk from Israeli developers has a wristwatch-shaped remote control. Here are just crutches better to use - for added stability. Everything is better than sitting in a chair, it seems to me.





    A couple of years ago, this costume helped a paralyzed woman overcome a marathon.



    ExoAthlet


    ExoAtlet is a Russian product. It is intended “for verticalization and walking of a patient with impaired locomotor functions of the lower extremities”.

    The industrial scale of production is still far, but the prototype, judging by the information on the network, is already operational. If there is anything to add on this topic - please write in comments or in private messages.





    Soft exoskeletons


    A flexible exoskeleton that repeats the biomechanics of the human foot may be a promising direction in this area. After all, the glands around the leg are clearly inferior to healthy parts of the body in terms of maneuverability.

    Several universities and the developer of wearable sensors BioScience are developing this “patch” with artificial muscles, sensors and software. Artificial tendons and artificial muscles stretched from the outside of the leg are visible here.

    The great difficulty lies precisely in flexibility: because of this, therefore, control methods, that is, sensors, must be especially accurate.

    Such equipment will help not only people with impaired mobility of the foot and ankle (while the device is only working there), but can later be used in other areas - on hands, for example.



    Artificial muscles are clearly visible in this video, and the sensors used in this soft exoskeleton are also shown.



    3D printing


    3D printers in medicine can be very useful. How they helped Amanda Boxtel paralyzed from the belt and below. 3D Systems specialists scanned her body, and together with EksoBionics printed this exoskeleton.





    I think this is amazingly cool - after many years of inability to walk, stand on your own feet again.



    Robot suit and football


    Giuliano Pinto kicked the ball at the opening of the 2014 World Cup. It seems to be nothing interesting - kicked and kicked. But he's completely paralyzed, this 29 year old guy. He controlled the exoskeleton with his own brain, and not with the help of remote control or his own legs, in which at least some possibility of movement remained.



    The creator of this exoskeleton is Miguel Nicolesis from Brazil. The government allocated him $ 14 million for these developments, which is not such a high amount when compared with how much they spend on such projects in the United States.



    Will neurocontrol be the future in prosthetics and exoskeletons? It seems obvious to me that work in this direction should be carried out with terrible force. But for this it is necessary to attract investment.

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