Special Report: Robotic pants offer hope for mobility

National

(CBS/WKRG) — A unique pair of pants could one day offer mobility to the elderly and people in wheelchairs around the world.

For Cheryl Chilcott, walking on her own has been a challenge since birth.

”I can walk a bit, but I’m always holding on to furniture, or always looking for the next place to sit down or take a rest,” said Chilcott.

She thought a wheelchair would be her only option until she found about a special pair of pants. Scientists say robotic technology stitched into the seams is a breakthrough for millions who need help to move.

”For those people that don’t have much muscle function, the pants will give them a lot of power, that’s the goal,” said Jonathan Rossiter, a robotics professor.

Engineers at England’s University of Bristol found inspiration from the Wallace and Grommit film “The Wrong Trousers.”

“So it’s very natural for us to call ours, not the wrong trousers, but the RIGHT trousers,” said Rossiter.

Bubbles are sewn down the thighs of the pants. They act as extra muscles expanding with air to help you stand or contracting to help you sit. Electrodes are also part of the design to stimulate leg muscles to move.

Researchers say the pants can boost leg strength and mobility by 10%. They hope to make them available for mass production within ten years.

 
 
 

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