Engineers from the US have designed a mechanized smart undergarment that may help reduce lower back pain.
The device, which was launched at the Congress of the International Society of Biometrics in Brisbane, Australia, works by relaxing muscles and reducing muscle fatigue.
However, the device isn't meant to cure those with existing back pain, but rather prevent it.
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"People are often trying to capitalize on a huge societal problem with devices that are unproven or unviable," said co-investigator Aaron Yang from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, US, referring to other alleged, but unproven solutions to back pain.
The design of the device
The device has two sections of fabric, made of nylon canvas, polyester, lycra and other materials, for the chest and legs.
These two sections are connected by sturdy straps across the middle back which insulates the lower back and the gluteus maximus muscle.
The device can be activated and deactivated by double tapping on the shirt.
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"This smart clothing concept is different. I see a lot of health care workers or other professionals with jobs that require standing or leaning for long periods. Smart clothing may help offload some of those forces and reduce muscle fatigue," said Yang praising the device.
Testing shows the efficacy of the device
For testing, participants had to wear the device, lean forward, and lift 11-kg and 25-kg weights at angles of 30 degrees, 60 degrees, and 90 degrees.
During these exercises, it was found that for each task the device reduced activity in the lower back extensor muscles by an average of 15% to 45%.
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