Sunday, February 18, 2007

Quadriceps and independence in aging

No kneed to fear old age

Our independence is dependent on the simple ability to get out of a chair. And that, in turn, depends on our knee joints' ability to lever us off the chair (or the toilet seat for that matter) with the help of our quadriceps muscles.

I watch my mom struggle to accomplish this task, and imagine a spring-loaded chair that would catapult her to her feet while not pitching her forward face-first to the floor. An engineer acquaintance, however, is working on a better idea, one that will hopefully reach the doddering old baby boomer market in time for me.

This knee brace, slim and easy to use in a neoprene sleeve sort of way, will have a sensing device waiting for a muscular clue that it's time to rise from a sit to a stand. At that time, a teensy little motor will provide from 25-75% assist to creaky old knees to accomplish the task.

Add this to the padded hip protectors that cushion lateral falls so that crumbly hips don't break, and we're talking bionic old broads, living on their own!

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