Exoskeleton could help aging baby boomers overcome limited movement

Nov. 12, 2013 at 6:33 PM
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CINCINNATI, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- University of Cincinnati researchers report they're working on an exoskeleton to support people who -- through age or injury -- are limited in their movement.

They're designing and building a spring-assisted leg exoskeleton that can help elderly patients, stroke patients and paraplegics stand and sit, the university reported Tuesday.

The goal is to give such people a bionic pick-up without undergoing the pain and lengthy recovery of surgery, the researchers said.

Mechanical engineering master's student Gaurav Mukherjee and Shikha Chaganti, a master's degree student in computer science, have been conducting a movement analysis study using markers on the body to build a virtual model, to help researchers design the exoskeleton to supplement the capability of the user.

Such exoskeletons could hold promise for the nation's aging baby boomer population, Mukherjee said, noting as many as 3 million U.S. senior citizens currently require some form of nursing supervision.

Eventually, the researcher said, a brain-computer interface could be developed to interpret how to operate the exoskeleton to coordinate with what the user wants to do.

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