Source: 恒星英语学习网    2017-09-14  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  

Batman-style 'smart' underpants could end the misery of back pain for millions of people.

Inventors have developed briefs that contain wearable technology designed to get rid of pain in the lower back.

Experts said many potential solutions for back pain are uNPRoven, unworkable or just plain unattractive.

Now a team of engineers from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee hope to change that with a design that combines the science of biomechanics and advances in wearable technology to create a smart, mechanized undergarment.

More than one in two adults (between 60 and 80 percent) suffer low back pain in their lifetimes and the condition is estimated to cost billions in healthcare and lost productivity every year.

Lead researcher Karl Zelik, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, started exploring wearable technology solutions after suffering back pain himself from repeatedly lifting his young son.

'I'm sick of comic book characters like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne being the only ones with performance-boosting supersuits. We, the masses, want our own,' Professor Zelik explained.

'The difference is that I'm not fighting crime. I'm fighting the odds that I'll strain my back this week trying to lift my two-year-old.'

Tests so far show that the smart clothing relieves stress on the lower back.

The device consists of two fabric sections, made of nylon canvas, Lycra, polyester and other materials, for the chest and legs.

The sections are connected by sturdy straps across the middle back, with natural rubber pieces at the lower back.

The device can be controlled by an app the team created - users tap their phones to engage the smart clothing wirelessly via Bluetooth. It can also be controlled by a light tap to the chest.

It is designed so that users engage it only when they need it.

The user just double taps their shirt, or their smart phone, to engage the straps.

When it is turned on, the elastic straps tighten so when the user completes a task, like lifting a heavy object, some of the pressure is diverted from the lower back to the straps.

And when the task is done, another double tap releases the straps so the user can sit down, and the device feels and behaves like normal clothes.

Eight subjects tested the device leaning forward and lifting 25lb and 55lb weights while holding their position at 30, 60 and 90 degrees.

Using motion capture, force plates and electromyography, which records the electric activity of muscle tissue, the team showed the device reduced activity in the lower back muscles by an average of 15 to 45 percent for each task.

'The next idea is to find out if we can use sensors embedded in the clothing to monitor stress on the low back, and if it gets too high, can we automatically engage this smart clothing,' Professor Zelik said.

The study's co-author Dr Aaron Yang said the focus of the new technology is not on treating those with existing back pain but on prevention by reducing stress and fatigue on the low back muscles.

He said: 'I see a lot of healthcare workers or other professionals with jobs that require standing or leaning for long periods. Smart clothing may help offload some of those forces and reduce muscle fatigue.'

The award-winning design was unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics in Australia.


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