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April 09, 2010

Exoskeletons and Other Technology to Mitigate or Reverse the Frailty of the Elderly



1. The Toyama Lab in Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology has the Wearable Agri Robot It is an exoskeleton for aging japanese farmers that should be commercially available in Japan in 2012 for about one million yen (about $10,000). They hope to halve if the device is mass-produced.


According to the Japanese census, half the number of the farm workers are elderly people who is 65 years old or more. Motors are installed in the joint of shoulders, elbows, waists and knees. These motors assist in movements of the wearer. We are able to lift things more than 20 kg which is needed in the farming

The current model is heavy - about 26 kg. The goal is less than 10 kg.
They are also working on improving the speed of responses and longer battery life. The suits can reduce the user’s physical effort by 62 per cent on average.



2. There are several other exoskeletons either on the market or soon to be on the market.

ReWalk is a wearable, motorized quasi robotic suit from Argo Medical Technologies. FDA approval is expected this year (2010). ReWalk™ is suitable for lower-limb mobility impaired adults who have functioning hands, arms and shoulders, as well as the ability to stand (healthy skeleton and cardio-vascular system). An approval from a physician is required

Lockheed is providing the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) exoskeleton for the US military



Japan has the HAL-5 robot suit which boosts strength by ten times.

Sankai, who is Cyberdyne’s CEO, was to supply 80 to 90 suits in Japan in October, 2009. At the end of September, 10 sets of HAL suits will be delivered to Denmark to be used by nurses who care for elderly people. The suits should enhance the nurses’ strength, helping them to move patients.

HAL exoskeletons are in use at hospitals and rehabilitation centers, Sankai says. The facilities lease the robots from Sankai’s company, Cyberdyne, for about US $1700 per month on average

3. There are selective androgen receptor modulators (SARM), which are compounds that produce steroid like enhancement to muscle but are believed to be safer. They increase the effect of steroids on muscle and decrease effects where they could cause harm such as in the prostate.

Real (as opposed to fakes claiming to be SARM) SARMs are being sold online since 2009

Various SARM drugs are currently going through different phases of clinical trials.

4. Myostatin inhibitors can have up to four times the effect of high doses of steroids. There are various drugs and gene therapy methods that are being investigated to enable therapeutic myostatin inhibition. Myostatin inhibition occurs naturally in about one person in one million and they do not have negative health effects because of it. Myostatin inhibition was probably not selected in human evolution because you have to eat about two or three times as much. In ancient times the stronger myostatin inhibited person would be more likely to starve.

5. Biotime has recently reversed the aging of human cells. They restored the length of the telomeres in cells back to an embryonic state. Rejuvenated cells, tissue and organs could be used to replace old cells in the body.

There is work from SENS and genescient and other institutions to slow or reverse aging effects.

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