2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Engineers have developed an orthopedic exoskeleton to measure body stiffness in patients with spinal curvature. The structure consists of three segments, which are interconnected by movable actuators. Tests have shown that the exoskeleton can detect differences in body rigidity between people with curvature and healthy people. The authors believe that such a device could be used as an active orthopedic corset for the treatment of curvature of the spine, according to an article published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering.
Curvature of the spine can severely restrict a person's movements and activities, negatively affect the respiratory system and lead to other problems. Often, with curvature of the spine, an orthopedic corset is used, which allows you to partially correct the position of the back. However, in order to understand exactly how the corset should act on the spine, it is first necessary to measure the stiffness of the body.
A team of engineers led by Sunil Agrawal of Columbia University has created an exoskeleton, which is a dynamic orthopedic corset. The exoskeleton design is based on an earlier prototype that the authors created in 2015. It consists of three ring segments: pelvic, thoracolumbar and thoracic. They are made of plastic and are covered with polyethylene foam from the side of the body. The adjacent rings are connected to each other by six long linear actuators with force and displacement transducers.
These actuators form a single array with six degrees of freedom. Due to this, the exoskeleton can perform many different movements, for example, bend, displace one of the sections relative to the others, or twist.
The developers have tested the exoskeleton as a tool for volumetric measurement of body stiffness. Ten volunteers participated, eight of whom were healthy, and two had spinal curvatures. To measure body stiffness, the exoskeleton alternately performed displacements in the area of each degree of freedom, while measuring the applied force and displacement of the actuators. As a result, the authors showed that the device can distinguish between healthy people and people with curvature of the spine by the rigidity of their body, and this difference depends on the place of bending. The authors believe that the design proposed by them can be used to create active orthopedic corsets that take into account the characteristics of the patient and adjust their structure to them.
Recently, American researchers have created an exoskeleton and special software for it, which allows you to adjust the movements of the device for a specific carrier. The exoskeleton takes just over 20 minutes to adapt to the user, after which a person's energy consumption for walking is reduced by 17 percent.