NC State projects adds bounce to your walk or run

NC State professor Greg Sawicki is working on an 'exoskeleton simulator.'

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wouldn’t it be nice to take some of the pain out of taking your daily run or walk?

That day may not be too far off.

An N.C. State research team is developing a device called the Exoskeleton Simulator that will help you run or walk longer while using less energy.

The exoskeleton simulator is designed to put an extra spring in your step. And it could be a way for baby boomers to stay active into their 70s and beyond. It is funded in part by the National Institute of Health.

Professor Greg Sawicki  said the gadget will help people restore movement. For the past two years, Siwicki and his team of PhD students at N.C. State have worked on the walking device that can reduce the load on muscles by as much as 30 percent.

“The cabling device pulls tension on the exoskeleton cabling device endofector so that’s providing rotational torque to his ankle,” Sawicki said. “So we look up at the screen and you can see we’re providing a small amount of forces with each step.”

The carbon fiber device weighs a little more than a pound and can be used with any running shoe. It requires no motor. Sawicki said the device literally provides “a spring in my step” that is not provided by tendons and muscles.

Sawicki said getting the device to market is still several years away.

But every day is one step closer to helping people walk more efficiently.

“It’s like eliminating the burden of a 10 pound pack any distance,” he said.

Sawicki said running shoe manufacturers are showing interest in the project.

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