A new high-tech corset could relieve pressure on the spine to ease lower back pain. This high-tech device is called Atlas, which contains tiny sensors and motors that move to stretch the back areas that are painful to ease and help the patient move freely. The device is now being trialed in France by 32 patients.
Lower back pain can be caused by age, irritation to the sciatic nerve, damage to the shock-absorbing disks in the spine, and other complications. Statistics show that eight out of ten adults suffer lower back pains at some point in their lives.
People treat their lower back pains using painkillers, physiotherapy, or at times, surgery but with mixed results. They also exercise to strengthen their back, legs, and stomach muscles.
Doctors believe that most people who suffer lower back pain are those who do not exercise because of kinesiophobia, a phenomenon in which they are afraid to worsen their pain. However, in reality, no exercise could weaken the muscles further and therefore worsens their condition because of lack of use.
Atlas: The Hi-Tech Corset for Lower Back Pain
Atlas, the high-tech corset, addresses concerns of kinesiophobia as it relieves pain on the spine while helping the patients move freely. It is worn like a corset at the lower back, which contains tiny sensors and motors that detect movements that stretch painful areas to let the patient move freely.
The corset should be worn for 60 minutes per session while doing rehab exercises to break the inactivity cycle and gain confidence in moving. Without muscle movements, the lower back pain could worsen.
The engineers who developed Atlas said that the corset is the first device to simultaneously relieve pain in the lower back simultaneously and promote movement among patients. As a result, the affected area's pain is relieved due to the vertical pulling force by the motors.
"The traction created by the micro-motors provides immediate pain relief by reducing nerve compression. Once the pain [cycle] is broken, patients gradually resume movements essential for rehabilitation," the engineers said.
Atlas is being tested at Lille University Hospital in France on 32 patients with chronic lower back pain. The participants were told to wear the corset for an hour a day for one week during the rehabilitation program. Then the researchers will measure the pain and movement during the trial.
According to Roger Hackey, a consultant surgeon at the Spire Nuffield Health hospitals in Leeds, the trial will focus on the small group of patients' improvement, whether it provides pain relief and allows patients to move freely. If proven successful, this trial could have benefits for those who have chronic lower back pain.
ReStore Exosuit: The High-Tech Suit for Stroke Patients
ReStore exosuit is a new suit developed for those who have lost the ability to walk after a stroke. It has a motor that strengthens movements that the patients make by powering the attachments in the ankle. This process is thought to encourage a normal walking pattern among the patients.
The therapist has a mobile application that receives data from the sensors in the suit's shoes and then controls the amount of assistance the patient needs.
Around 44 patients in a trial using the suit claimed that it helped them walked without falling. The engineers who made the suit are planning to have further trials to test the suit.
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