Now, persons that are disabled and impaired could say good bye to awkward crutches and cumbersome wheelchairs! Powered suits are now coming in style. There are teams of researchers particularly in Japan are developing powered suits that can support disabled or elderly individuals in their physical activities. Even individuals, who are not entirely disabled but have difficulty walking or performing actions such as standing up or sitting down have a special type of powered suit. Caregivers also have specially designed suits for boosting their strength and help them to perform physical tasks, such as lifting people they care for.
These suits are designed to work by supplementing the wearers own physical strength and can be used for everyday activities such as walking or for rehabilitation. Researchers from both industry and academia are continually improving their designs with the goal of making them available for practical use in care and rehabilitation situations.
Walking aids as a sort of powered suit are now being developed by a team of researchers in the University of Tsukuba, Japan, led by Professor Sankai Yoshiyuki. Two main components are featured in this suit. First, is a metal frame that externally supports the legs and has motor and sensors, attached, the second component is a regulator that is carried on the users back. The sensors affixed to the surface of the skin instantaneously pick up the faint electrical signals transmitted from the brain to the muscles, as the wearer starts to move. Then, it attempts to make the motors action complement the motion of the wearer. The weight is not much of a burden to the user since the heel section is in contact with the ground, though its about 23 kilograms.
This suit offers high hopes as a walking aid or rehabilitation tool for elderly or disabled individuals with reduced physical strength. This is because this lower-body suit provides support by moving in a manner that virtually duplicates the wearers will. The suit can also perform preprogrammed actions. This feature offers an array of potential applications, like sports training. In using this suit in this scenario, muscle signals from an elite athlete would first be input into the device. By doing this, users could directly experience the movements of the athlete once they put on the suit. This experience would help them get more out of their training. For boosting arm strength, Sankai and his team also plan to develop an upper-body suit. There are many useful potential applications upper-body suit.
Mitsui and Co., along with a group of small businesses in Ota Ward, Tokyo was attracted by Sankai and his teams work on the suits. Tokyo is known as a hive of innovative business activity and the firms there agreed to cooperate with the University of Tsukuba in developing the suits to the next level. As of now, many other organizations, with the academia are involved in developing more types of power suits. -30-