An exoskeleton is a mechanical, machine or robotic support structure for the human body. These have their raison d’être in everyday working life as well as in medical therapy. In medicine, exoskeletons are used to help people with disabilities or severe limitations of the musculoskeletal system to stand and walk.
On the one hand, an exoskeleton consists of a light but stable frame that encloses the entire lower body. This frame is capable of supporting both the skeleton’s own weight, the electronics and the additional weight of the user. Just like the human body, the frame has joints that enable natural movements. The drive is mostly provided by rechargeable batteries. Due to the limited mobility of the user, exoskeletons can usually only be put on with outside help.
Via sensors that transmit their signals to the electric and hydraulic motors, it is possible to help patients stand, walk and climb stairs. By using them, patients can train strength and endurance and suffer from less fatigue. It can also prevent inactivity osteoporosis and reduce pain and spasms.
So far, exoskeletons can only be used on solid, stable ground and even if a natural movement pattern is aimed for, a smooth gait pattern is still a long way off. In addition, users must have a strong upper body in order to maintain balance and avoid falls.