Custom exoskeletons, the latest technological breakthrough

Exoskeletons are revolutionising rehabilitation and the treatment of many diseases. They represent an opportunity for many people to return to being able to walk. Because of the possibilities they offer, research into new solutions is progressing rapidly. The latest? Custom exoskeletons to optimise treatment.

Benefits of custom exoskeletons.

Among the benefits of these exoskeletons is the possibility of undergoing more effective rehabilitation.

Exoskeletons are frames that carry people and are connected to motors and sensors that help people move around and perform certain activities such as carrying heavy objects. For people with reduced mobility, this technology enables them to walk independently, improving their aerobic capacity and reducing problems such as spasticity and muscle atrophy, among others.

Up to now, exoskeletons only came in standard models. But researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States have designed an exoskeleton that provides custom support for the user. The research was based on the premise that each person has unique natural movements and exoskeletons in only one size were not allowing patients to benefit from all of the possibilities they had. The researchers designed an exoskeleton for the ankle which learns the user’s movements and creates an optimum individual pattern that helps reduce energy expenditure when walking.

These exoskeletons enable significant energy saving

In this particular study, the aim was to optimise energy expenditure during rehabilitation. To do so, the system was tested on healthy volunteers with custom support. The system noted the ankle’s rotation, elevation, maximum twisting and drop movements. After an hour of exercise, the system identified the support patterns that decreased the energy necessary to perform the activity.

That way, it adapted to the motions of each person. And it was able to reduce the energy expenditure that occurs when walking by 24% compared to the same system but without the custom support. And in cases where the custom support was placed on both ankles, the decrease in metabolic cost was 33%

Moreover, in subsequent rounds with the custom exoskeletons, the volunteers experienced further decreases in energy expenditure. According to the researchers, users of the device can make their own subtle adjustments. This provides the system with a greater ability to adapt.

The benefits of these new exoskeletons are numerous. Especially for people with paralysis or reduced mobility and pulmonary impairment. They now have an instrument that can optimise the energy they produce. This facilitates more effective rehabilitation. And for people with disabilities or reduced mobility, it represents an opportunity to be more independent. This will result in improved physical and mental health.

Technology is taking giant strides forward in rehabilitation. Along with exoskeletons, other developments include 3D printing, robotics and virtual reality. New possibilities for treatments are opening up to accelerate recovery and improve the circumstances of patients. In the case of custom exoskeletons, it is a new step forward in the development of improved designs that take into account the physiological needs of each patient. It is undoubtedly a great breakthrough, not only for rehabilitation but also for improving quality of life.

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