Exoskeletons: Improving Mobility of People with Physical Disabilities
What is Considered a Mobility Disability?
Mobility Impairments refer to a category of disability where individuals lose the ability to use one or more extremities of their body. This inability can be caused by several factors including old age, disease, an accident or congenital disorder. However, mobility is also impaired by less obvious disabilities, such as reduced heat tolerance or multiple sclerosis.
What is Assistive Technology?
Regardless of the physical disability individuals with physical impairments can aid their mobility with assistive devices or mobility aids. Assistive Technology spans a wide range of technologies that increase the mobility of individuals with physical disabilities. Including powered wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, functional electrical stimulation and wearable exoskeletons.
What are Exoskeletons?
Robotic exoskeletons were originally developed for military uses since 1960. Biomedical Engineers now use the technology to increase mobility as a therapeutic application for individuals with physical disabilities. The main goal of Exoskeletons is to successfully enable individuals that cannot walk without assistance to support their limbs. Designed to enhance lower limbs and provide support torque to augment the torque knee and hip during the walking cycle.
There are four characteristics with which Exoskeletons are designed:
- Robust human-robot multimodal cognitive interaction. Allowing as much as possible, the user to control the technology.
- Safe and dependable physical interaction between the user and the technology.
- True wearability and portability, for durability in all environments inside and outside of the user’s home.
- User-centred aspects. The design focuses solely on the acceptance and usability for the user to maintain long term jeopardy.
How Does Polyspine Help?
Poly Spine has been researching the use of exoskeletons to improve mobility for several years; we have currently begun human trials as of August 2020 in Sydney, Australia. We are closer and closer for our product to be easily accessible in the public market, with working towards obtaining a series of industry and regulatory approvals.
Our supportive exoskeletons are customisable for people with moderate to severe physical disabilities. It provides support to users with a physical disability so that they can participate in rehabilitative and recreational activities; outside of their main wheelchair or accessibility equipment.
PolySpine is modular in nature and has been designed to fit a range of attachments for different types of activities. There is a spinal piece and head support that attaches to a supporting vest so that someone can wear it. On the back of the spinal piece, we are able to attach various PolySpine attachments. Each attachment enables people to participate in new activities. For example, our chair attachment is designed to fit many chairs whilst supporting someone wearing PolySpine.
For more information and resources for disabled adults can be found at NDIS and Physical Disability Australia.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a physical disability that impacts your mobility, you may be able to benefit from PolySpine’s customisable supportive exoskeleton. Polyspine’s disability equipment can be used to increase mobility and allow the user to take part in physical activities that they would otherwise not be able to. Disabilities which impact the spine and cause limited mobility are a particular focus of the Polyspine team. Progress is underway to get our project into the hands of people who need it. For more information about Polyspine, contact our team or sign up for a trial.