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Honda uses Asimo technology to get the elderly on their feet

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July 31, 2012

Stride Walking Assist is designed to help those with difficulty walking

Stride Walking Assist is designed to help those with difficulty walking

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We've been following Honda’s Stride Management Assist since its first unveiling in 2008, to the introduction of its sturdier cousin into the workplace and then its U.S. tour in 2009. Now the ASMIO spin off is scheduled to undergo field tests by Japan's National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG). The NCGG will test 40 units of the device on people with limited walking ability at the Elder Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Center at Resora Obu Shopping Terrace in Obu, Japan.

Honda has been working on walking robot technology since the 1980s and the 130 patents that resulted in its ASIMO robot have allowed the automotive giant to expand into creating a new range of assisted mobility devices, including the Stride Management Assist. This lightweight, surprisingly simple-looking device is designed to help those with weakened leg muscles due to age or other causes, yet who are still able to walk. It does this by giving a robotically controlled boost to the upper legs that allows the wearer to walk faster for longer.

Looking a bit like a girdle meant for a robot, the Stride Management Assist consists of light metal braces that cradle the wearer’s legs. These are attached to a hip piece with a streamlined box fitted in the small of the back. It’s held in place by adjustable straps and acts a bit like the belted frame of a rucksack to reduce the wearer’s load and to fit different body shapes.

Lightweight it certainly is, coming in at only 2.8 kilograms (6.2 lb) - and that includes its lithium batteries. Its running time is about two hours when walking at 4.5 km/h (2.8 mph) and it comes in small, medium and large sizes. The control computer and batteries sit in the back case and a DC motor sits on each hip. The idea is that when the wearer walks, the computer analyzes the stride and boosts it by providing assistance to the thighs when extending the front leg and when the rear leg pushes off.

However, it does much more than just goose the wearer along. The Stride Management Assist adjusts the stride and walking rhythm within a preprogrammed range, lengthening the wearer’s stride.

According to Honda, this brings a range of benefits. With the device also monitoring the wearer's heartbeat and making adjustments accordingly, Honda has found that in hill tests it reduces exertion and lowers the heart rate of the wearer. The company claims continued use of the Stride Management Assist also increases overall muscle activity due to lengthening of the walking stride and, over time, the wearer’s natural stride and speed increases. Tests have even shown that the Stride Management Assist can, to some degree, provide maintenance and restoration of walking function in some people.

Honda will use the results of the scheduled tests in Obu to evaluate the device and make improvements to it.

Source: Honda

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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5 Comments

My wife is partly paralyzed on her right side. She wears a brace and can walk with a cane or arm-in-arm. This device would be a miracle for her IF (big IF) it can also assist in going DOWNSTAIRS. I notice no pictures of the device assisting in that mode, and I know from years of experience that the scariest and most difficult thing for a person in my wife's condition to do is to walk downstairs. Any slight misstep on the narrow landing platform that is the next step lower, and you pitch forward, tumble down, and break your neck.

ricard
31st July, 2012 @ 11:00 am PDT

Whether on not the assistance device developed by Honda can negotiate stairs or not, it is surely a great leap forward for those who suffer handicapped walking capability.

Yet, there are other ways that the handicapped can move safely from level to level, while still in their own home, and gizmag has previously reported on that:

http://www.gizmag.com/go/4007/

(New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price)

vortexau
31st July, 2012 @ 10:43 pm PDT

hello. as remarkable as this may appear to be, Honda has been routinely impressing me with their robotic innovations and technology, electric home energy systems, small lawn mower engines, and automobiles. if they made a motorcycle i liked, i would vote for them to be rulers of all mechanical motions.

rollzone
1st August, 2012 @ 01:12 pm PDT

My mother has a muscle torn loose in her hip. They refused to reattach it, it atrophied, and now can not be repaired. walking is quite hard for her to do. This would make her remaining years, better. If she doesn't have to sell the house to buy it.

kellory
1st August, 2012 @ 07:25 pm PDT

My wife has Parkinson and has trouble walking if this would help it would be a miracle. Her goal is to walk in the mall again

Is there any place we could contact a representative to see if would work

Robert Hutchinson Sr
25th October, 2012 @ 05:56 pm PDT
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