Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New ergonomic backpack lightens the load

22.12.2006
Invention could have important health applications for schoolchildren, emergency workers

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—An MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) biomechanics expert has invented an ergonomic backpack that uses rubber bands to reduce the effects of heavy loads on shoulders and joints and permits wearers to run more comfortably with heavy loads.

The backpack's design, which suspends loads using bungee cords, reduces the energetic cost of carrying weight such that users can carry 12 more pounds in the suspended backpack than in a traditional backpack. The suspended backpack could reduce the risk of orthopedic and muscular injuries to children, emergency workers, and others who use backpacks to carry loads.

Lawrence C. Rome, a University of Pennsylvania biology professor and a Whitman Investigator at the MBL, where he spends his summers studying muscle in fish and frogs, and two colleagues, describe the design of and the mechanics behind the Suspended-Load Ergonomic Backpack in the December 21 issue of the journal Nature.

With traditional backpacks, the mass of the backpack, which is typically attached tightly to the body, must undergo the same vertical displacement as the hip, which moves up and down 5 to 7 centimeters during walking. As a result, the peak forces exerted on the body by the load can be twice as high when walking, and three times as high when running, as when the backpack is not moving, exerting extreme forces on the wearer's shoulders and joints.

By using stretchy bungee cords, Rome's ergonomic backpack suspends the load and allows it to stay at a nearly constant height from the ground while the wearer walks or runs. This reduces the vertical displacement of the load and the resulting dynamic forces exerted on the body by a remarkable 82 to 86 percent. The reduction in dynamic force is easily felt, says Rome, and has practical consequences. "An immediate application would be to use it in backpacks carried by schoolchildren, a well known cause of musculoskeletal injury and recognized international public health problem."

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the backpack is that it permits wearers to run far more comfortably with heavy loads. "Being able to move at relatively high speeds is crucial for many professions (firemen, first responders, disaster relief workers, and police) as well as in some athletic competitions and recreation," says Rome. "If you have ever tried to run with a heavy backpack, it is almost impossible because of the large shocks to your knees and ankles. What is striking about our ergonomic backpack is that one can feel the 86 percent reduction in force with each and every step."

Rome and his colleagues also found that the suspended backpack's reduction in forces exerted on the body reduced the metabolic cost of carrying a load, allowing a substantially heavier load to be carried. The lower metabolic rate allows the wearer to carry 60 pounds in the ergonomic backpack for the same energetic cost as 48 pounds in a normal backpack. "The reason for this reduction in metabolic rate is that the suspended backpack reduces the accelerative forces during the more energetically expensive phase of walking, which is when both legs are simultaneously in contact with the ground and performing mechanical work against each other," says Rome.

Rome has formed a company called Lightning Packs LLC to further develop and commercialize the backpack. He and his colleagues will be focusing on reducing the backpack's weight and making a smaller daypack version. Lightning Packs has already received funding through small business grants from the Office of Naval Research and National Institutes of Health for commercializing an electricity generating backpack, which Rome invented in 2003. It plans to apply for similar funding for development of the ergonomic backpack.

Gina Hebert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mbl.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>