For many of us if we wish to make ourselves stronger we go to the gym, lift some weights, put on some form and then find that to maintain our new-found strength we need to regularly go to the gym.
I myself have an ongoing gym membership just to try to maintain some fitness and form in my older years, a kind of preventative measure you might say. What if I’m physically challenged or elderly?
While I do see a lot more physically challenged and elderly people in the gym these days, I don’t see all physically challenged and elderly people in the gym.
Working with an Exoskeleton.
While nature uses Exoskeletons mainly for protection, either from environment or predators, unless you are in the military or a die hard prepper, most of us would look for just making our job a little or a lot easier. A few years back now there was a well-used working term called Repedative Strain Injury, while I haven’t heard this term lately the effects of this are still prevalent today.
At the time of writing this, there is a well-known auto builder that is trialing a type of Exoskeleton that assists workers with repetitive overhead work. This work is responsible for a lot of lost work time due to sore shoulders. The device allows workers to keep lifting their arms and tools above their heads without straining the shoulders. Already the company is saying that they are seeing a reduction in lost time due to shoulder strain.
Another great invention that has come about is something called the chairless chair (yes you read it right) you may work in an office where you need to move around and then sit down a lot or you may be a maintenance worker that requires a lot of up and down also, imagine being able to “wear” your chair that can be set to whatever position you require or even having it preset to a set position whenever you need to sit down.
Exoskeletons for Paraplegics.
I can’t even try to imagine what it would be like to have a reduced or non-existent use of my limbs. At times throughout my life I’ve had reduced mobility due to injury and that was frustrating enough, let alone a permanent disability. While in the future decades we hear talk of biological technology reversing these types of reduced body functions, I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of people in the world or maybe even millions that want mobility now.
There is good news that in the near future that people confined to wheelchairs due to Paraplegia will be getting up and about with the aid of Exoskeletons. Already we have a company in Israel producing and selling Exoskeletons to aid those with Paraplegia, even to the extent that the governing health body in the United States have approved them for payment assistant. While these devices aren’t cheap, about the price of a mid range car, what price would you put on gaining your lost mobility?
Exoskeletons for the Elderly.
From my own perspective, I’m closer to this than I wish, well to the elderly part anyway. I’m fortunate enough to have the help of an Exercise Physiologist that is helping me work with my weaknesses and take steps via the gym and swimming pool to improve and strengthen my mobility, so hopefully I shall move unassisted for the next 20 years or so.
However, for those that are having difficulty with walking, going up or down stairs or mobility in general due to the advancement of lifes time line, there are now Exoskeletons for the elderly that can make life a lot easier. In developed “1st” world countries families have a totally different structure than those in developing “3rd” world countries. People/families in 1st world countries are all about becoming richer, this in turn makes us become time poorer, while in developing countries tend to be more involved within the household, thus being more supportive of each other.
If we, take a look at China it’s only been over the last few generations that the united household has become fragmented. They have gone from a multi generation household to one where the younger generation has pursued an education and then moved away from the family unit to maintain their newfound independence and wealth.
All this is leading to our elderly being left to fend for themselves to a certain extent, however, in their later years they still need and maybe even more so to be mobile. With the help of new technology like exoskeletons this mobility can be augmented thus maintaining some independence.
I Lift – Exoskeletons For Strength.
I believe that within the next 20 years we will have robots doing our heavy lifting dangerous and industrial work, however, in the interim how can we improve our lifting capabilities?
Without a doubt my favorite Exoskeleton would have to be the one portrayed in the “Aliens” movies. Now I think that these machines have a limited environment for operation mainly heavy industry, I think if we scale down the application we would have a lot of potential to assist workers to lift heavy loads.
The military are looking at soldiers carrying around 90 kg (200 lbs), as far as my research can find, industry is looking at around the 70 kg (150 lbs) area. When you consider that it’s a struggle for a fit person to handle a 35 kg parcel, to then being able to double that weight capacity puts a whole new perspective on what one person can do.
More Than a Hard Shell.
Throughout mankind’s history the one thing that has driven change, is that which makes us “better”. With the help of Exoskeletons that tradition continues. Workers can be made stronger, the physically challenged will be less isolated from mainstream society and the elderly will be more mobile and be able to socialise more.
To put it into a nut shell, the enhancement we gain from Exoskeletons will be more than just strength. Everyone has something they can contribute to making society better and the more inclusive we can make society the better for all.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, please leave a comment on your thoughts, either good or bad it all helps.
Best regards; Paul.