WALKING LIGHTER

Walking is one of the healthiest things a person can do to feel and live better. What are the benefits of walking? This activity mobilizes tissues, regulates sugar levels, mobilizes toxins (poisons) and metabolic waste. All of this results in weight loss, increased secretion of substances for well-being (adrenaline, endorphins …), decreased muscle aches and reduced fatigue.

These benefits would be a direct result if we started using the walk assist clutch, also know as an unpowered ankle exoskeleton. The exoskeleton was initially made for the military as well as to help elderly rehab patients and people with mobility problems. It can also help many professionals such as firefighters and medical personnel to move faster and move heavier weights. However, this exoskeleton is now accesible for everyone to use.

 

EXOSKELETON

The structure is placed on someone’s legs and has a dock in the back that helps you raise your body every time you take a step, reducing the load on your feet of about 4.5 kilos and it divides this weight with the dock. You’ll notice how you feel lighter and how you’ll walk longer distances and run faster with less effort.

 

This aparatus was created by Steven H. Collins, along with engineers from two other US universities. According to Steven H. Collins, the device would save between 2.6 and 7% of the energy we use daily. This amount may seem insignificant.

Unlike the exoskeleton made by Collins, the Rewalk helps people who aren’t able to walk. Don’t confuse this device with the walk assist clutch because the Rewalk has harnesses, brackets and motors. It was designed to help patients get up from a sitting position as well as with walking. Two advantages of the Rewalk are that it’s customizable and it can withstand heavy weight. Unfortunately due to it’s complexity at the moment there are very few in the world.

The ReWalk, manufactured by engineer Amit Goffer, is an electronic skeleton that moves the legs and moves the body forward. It is intended for people who have lost muscle function. This device allows you to choose different modes with a remote control which is placed on the wrist. The different options include: stand, sit, walk, descend and climb.

 

nature14288-f3

As you can see, “Exoskeleton spring stiffness” affected metabolic rate. Net metabolic rate, with the value for quiet standing subtracted out, was 7.2 ± 2.6% lower with the 180 N m rad−1 spring (orange bar) than during normal walking (dark grey bar). The dashed line is a quadratic best fit to mean data from exoskeleton conditions. Wearing the exoskeleton with the spring removed (light grey bar) did not increase energy cost compared with normal walking.

 

 

Personal OPINION: In my opinion, people who are in good shape would not be the same benefits if we walk with the unpowered ankle exoskeleton and if we walk without it. The potential disadvantage of it is that it is easier to get through a race. The problem, is after using the device, your muscles might not be used to walks without it. It’s possible that your muscles will rely too heavily on the apparatus.

On the other hand, I understand that firefighters might want to use the device to give then a leg up. Since their job involves saving lives, this device can give then an added advantage and potentially more lives can be saved because of it. I also believe that people who are starting rehabilitation would benefit from this apparatus and would help then recover faster. I think this system is effective, but only for people who need assistance with walking, otherwise it would be an hindrance.

What do you think?

 

ORIGINAL SOURCE: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature14288.html

ARTICLE: http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/04/01/ciencia/1427901201_928239.html

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2 Responses to WALKING LIGHTER

  1. Right!, but it must be another source missing, which you don’t mention.

    > Besides that, it’s not clear to me what have you taken from the original source in Nature, if any. It should be a paragraph about it. Maybe you can use this idea, explained in El País: “vieron que los resultados eran muy dependientes de la tensión del resorte. Si el muelle estaba muy tenso o demasiado flojo, incurrían en un mayor consumo de energía o gastaban lo mismo que si no la llevaban. Pero con la torsión adecuada, obtuvieron un ahorro medio de energía de un 7%”

    As you could see in Nature, Figure 3 is about this point, and you will find a high resolution plot here. So you could write a paragraph including this image with an appropriate caption (in case you don’t have a better idea).

  2. Serxio Duro di:

    @pedrinhascientia I’ve added Figure 3 with the caption.

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