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article imageBionic knee brace helps people to walk

By Tim Sandle     Mar 13, 2016 in Health
Medical technologists from Nova Scotia have invented a bionic knee brace that helps redress the weight of the body onto the lower leg, enabling people who have difficulty in walking to walk more freely.
The aim of the mechanical knee brace is to help with walking and to reduce the effect of fatigue. The concept is called the "Levitation brace" and it has classical physics concepts at its heart. The brace is made up of levers and cords. The brace capture energy and stores it when the wearer bends their knee, and then releases the energy when the knee is straightened. Remarkably the brace itself weighs only two pounds.
More details are shown in the following video here.
Speaking with The Star, Chris Cowper-Smith, co-inventor (with Bob Garrish) and owner of the Canadian start-up ('Spring-Loaded Technology') developing the project, said: “It packs the power of a robotic exoskeleton, but it’s roughly one-hundredth the cost." The brace is designed to be worn underneath clothing.
For the general public, the brace will be of interest to athletes recovering from injury; as well as older people with worn-out knees. The retail cost is expected to be around $2,500.
The idea has been taken on by the Canadian Armed Forces and the financial backing, at $1 million, is enabling the knee brace to go into production, making it available not only to the military but also to the general public. The military are interested in order to address the problem of battle fatigue. Soldiers regularly go through motions of crouching and standing up; this practice is made harder when they are carrying heavy weapons and other gear. The brace will help to ease this burden. A related application is to assist with paratroopers, when they reach the ground after jumping.
The start-up is also supported by a venture capital grant of $1.9 million, which has been raised privately. The knee brace will go into full production in the summer of 2016.
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