The baby boomer generation was like none other before it or after it, but there are also a few complications that this enormous generation is going to have to face over the next few years. The baby boomers are aging and this means that there is an enormous demand for nursing and skilled care facilities in the United States. In fact, over 3 million Americans now need at least some level of skilled care and this number is going to continue to rise.
One of the chief concerns of this aging population is mobility. Whether it’s through injury, sickness or simply old age breaking down joints, we are looking at having a large percent of the population facing mobility problems. When you add in the numerous cases of paralyzed or immobilized veterans, as well as everyday folks who suffer the same issues, it is clear that keeping people mobile is going to be one of the main challenges of the future.
Gaurav Mukherjee, a UC master’s student in mechanical engineering in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) and Grant Schaffner, an assistant professor in UC’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics may have an answer to this mobility problem. They have developed a new type of exoskeleton that may address mobility issues as well as a host of other problems.
This particular exoskeleton is designed to work with user direction, and eventually, will operate within the user’s own power. This sets it apart from machine exoskeleton’s which cannot imitate natural movement as effectively, or through the user’s control.
While much research must still be done, this team of researchers has shown that is entirely possible to create a functioning exoskeleton that has the power to aide those with mobility issues quite effectively.
This is great news for engineering students, particularly for those who are seeking careers in medical engineering. Not only are the continued demands for new advances going to keep this job market secure for many years to come, there is also the potential to have an incredible impact on the lives of millions of people. Not everyone can say that their career helps the immobile walk and live normal lives.
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