The more our muscles strain in response to an external force the less they are able to sense the force’s strength and direction. That is one of the issues that people with a variety of disabilities involving weak muscles face: in addition to the loss of strength, they lose control and coordination of their weak arms and legs.
Now a research collaboration between scientists at Hiroshima University, Georgia Tech, and Smart Support Technologies Inc. have developed an upper body vest that lightens the load on the arm. The Sensorimotor Enhancing Suit (SEnS) doesn’t have any motors or other electronics, using passive techniques to function. This allows it to be an easy wear and not require any battery charging while providing effective sensorimotor support.
“Human muscular movement is well-known anatomically and physiologically,” said Yuichi Kurita at the Institute of Engineering at Hiroshima University. “However, understandings of how to compute human musculoskeletal dynamics and build models of human sensation and motion using a computer are very limited. Furthermore, it is rare to develop products using a model that is computable in this research field. We calculated the movement of the human muscle using a computer and measured the maximum point of human sensorimotor function. SEnS is designed to improve sensorimotor performance during use. In the future, we can develop made-to-order SEnS in keeping with individual muscle movements using our technique.”
Study abstract: Unloading muscle activation enhances force perception