Exoskeleton Aims to Prevent Falls for Seniors

When we think of exoskeletons, we tend to think along comic book lines: mechanical suits bestowing superhero strength upon the villain. But perhaps more practical uses for exoskeletons exists: restoring the ability to walk, for instance, or as in the case of these exoskeleton shorts, preventing hip fractures by detecting and correcting falls before they happen.

Falls and the debilitating injuries that can result are a cruel fact of life for the elderly, and anything that can potentially mitigate them could be a huge boon to public health. Falls often boil down to loss of balance from slipping,…

New pelvic exoskeleton stops people from taking tumbles

pelvic exoskeleton
GOT YOUR BACK A new wearable robotic device aims to help those at risk of falling and injuring themselves find their balance.

A wearable robot could prevent future falls among those prone to stumbles.

The new exoskeleton packs motors on a user’s hips and can sense blips in balance. In a small trial, the pelvic robot performed well in sensing and averting wearers’ slips, researchers report May 11 in Scientific Reports.

Exoskeletons have the potential to help stroke victims and people with spinal cord injuries walk again (SN: 11/16/13, p. 22) — and even kick soccer goals (SN Online: 6/12/14). But this new model focuses on a more ordinary aspect of the human condition: falling on your face or your rear. “Exoskeletons could really help in this case,” says study coauthor Silvestro Micera, an engineer at École Polytechnique…