Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gherig’s disease, is a cancerous condition that affects muscle control and strength, eventually leaving patients unable to hold their heads upward. To increase their wellbeing, researchers and engineers at Columbia University have created a robotic neck brace that functions as artificial throat muscles so patients can lift their heads and perform day to day activities most of us take for granted.
There is presently no cure for ALS, and herbal remedies just impede the condition’s degenerative effects which eventually cause paralysis of the limbs and also a dropped head with the patient’s chin resting their torso leading to other complications such as impaired breathing, swallowing, and address. Neck braces aren’t a fresh idea, but they need to be rigid to be adequately supportive, so they can quickly become uncomfortable to wear.
Looking like a robotic exo skeleton right from science fiction, even a group of engineers and neurologists at Columbia University’s Robotics and Rehabilitation Laboratory have generated an animated neck brace that does far more than simply keep the wearer’s head vertical. Employing a mixture of mechanical actuators, sensors, and sometimes even surface electromyography pads that can detect the electric signals that the brain is sending to the wearer’s neck muscles, the robotic brace can restore about 70 per cent of an ALS patient’s autonomous motions and range of motion inside their own head.
In addition to eliminating dangerous side effects like distressed breathing, also the robotic brace causes it a lot much easier for ALS patients to eat, and also to talk to family and healthcare professionals, including improved eye contact during conversations. But when the development of the illness prevents them from being able to talk, keeping their thoughts vertical permits them to use their own eyes as joysticks for computer-based communication tools, like the only Stephen Hawking depended on.
Information on a pilot analysis of the tech were recently published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology journal, and afterwards working with 1 1 ALS patients and 10 healthy areas of the same period, the investigators found the robotic brace might possibly be used as an instrument for discovering indications of the problem, and also the degree of its development from patients. Furthermore, its creators believe it might have software outside of assisting those with ALS, for example patients experiencing throat injuries that do not necessarily require the moves of their head to be wholly limited, or those coping with bad throat control as a consequence of other neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy.