Superhuman Robotic Boots to Enhance Balance – A Promising Solution for Fall Prevention
Feb. 17, 2023.
1 min. read Interactions
Robotic boots have been shown by researchers to improve balance in healthy young adults. The key to improving balance, according to the study, is to have boots that can respond faster than human reaction times. The motorized floors used in the study “pulled the rug out” from under participants, forcing them to stay balanced with their feet in place. The exo-boots were programmed to provide participants with a burst of assistance faster than humanly possible, and the results revealed that only the mode that outperformed the human reaction helped users recover balance faster and prevented them from taking a step toward recovery.
Because falls are the leading cause of health decline in older adults, the development of assistive technology to improve balance can prevent falls and allow people to be active for longer periods of time. The research is a proof-of-concept demonstration that exoskeletons can improve balance in a controlled laboratory setting during a simple upright standing task for young adults who do not have balance issues. The findings show that the nervous system acts to gather information from throughout the body in order to stay upright while standing or walking.
Although much work remains to be done to enable wearable robots to assist with balance in everyday life and improve the lives of people with balance impairments, the results of this study are promising. Wearable robots can be used at other lower-limb joints, such as the knee and hip, to develop artificial intelligence capable of predicting the risk of falling and enabling personalized superhuman balance.
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