Technology innovation is moving really fast these days. It’s hard to keep up. At the Center for Extreme Bionics at MIT, Hugh Herr has developed an external, strap-on, femur-knee-tibia/fibula enhancement. It’s a body-sensing technology that will allow Mom to leap small buildings in a single bound! Start this TED talk at minute 8:00 to see a demo of Mom’s amazing Mother’s Day gift – a new exoskeleton!
What’s an Exoskeleton?
An exoskeleton is different than a prosthetic. A prosthetic replaces lost body parts. An exoskeleton attaches to and enhances an existing body part. In the video mentioned above we can see how an exoskeleton makes running, dancing, hiking or walking a significantly less stressful event. There is reduced wear and tear on muscles, bones, joints and tendons, while still providing an intense workout that actually turns out to be quite enjoyable.
When we consider from this research - that somewhere between 80% and 90% of the brain’s neural resources are designed and intended for moving the body – anything we can do to modulate and personally adjust the stress involved in that movement provides us with increasing control and flexibility. We might actually get out and do the exercise that almost always makes brain and body feel better. It’s similar to when I ride an electric bike from my friend Liz’s husband’s Seattle E-Bike shop, I can get many of the benefits of bike-riding, but when I come to the huge incline that begins at my street and runs all the way up to the Goose Community Grocery store, I can pedal whatever parts of the journey I care to, and get an electric assist for those parts that are more than my body wants to take on. We clearly need to do something to help the 70 percent of us who are overweight! (I find something DEEPLY disturbing about that statistic. And it’s projected to be 90%!! by 2050 according to Katie Couric in her documentary, Fed Up).
Why Would I Want One?
I’m about 40 pounds overweight in that 70% category. I have to make my brain work extra hard to make physical exercise a part of my daily routine. There’s little ecstatic bliss associated with it. Just getting myself a pair of Hoka One One (Onay, Onay) jogging shoes, which luxuriously cushion my feet, makes me actually look a little bit forward to my daily walks. Add an exoskeleton, one which takes that forty pounds of extra load and transfers them off of my ankles, knees and hips and I’ll be out running through the woods from sunup to sundown! Since, except for the pain and stress involved, I actually like moving my body.
In addition to the physical stress reduction benefits, it turns out that all the Masters of the Universe extol the benefits of walking, as does evolutionary biologist extraordinare, Richard Dawkins in this recently published research claiming great increases in creativity accrue. So who am I to argue with Universe Masters and Exalted Scientists?
Why is It Better Than Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll?
We know that certain kinds of exercise in certain intensities and duration can trigger the release of endogenous (originating within the body or brain) opioids. The so-called “runner’s high” actually does work to release the brain’s own inhibitory neurotransmitter endogenous morphine (endorphins), which produce an altered brain / body state similar to the one produced by exogenous morphine (by I-V drip, for example). What makes exercise-released endorphins better is that they are naturally occurring and the more they are triggered and released, the stronger the connections they make in the brain become. With an exoskeleton, it’s all gain and little pain!
Where Can I Get One?
You don’t really have to worry about that. Once they are on the market and manufacturers realize their potential to put people’s brains into altered pleasure states supreme, your Spam folder will have more ads for exoskeletons than it currently has for Cialis, Lipitor and Viagra combined. Not to mention all those coy TV commercials suggesting people of all ages, stripes and colors having wild, freelance exo-skeleton sex itself! And if none of that gets your juices flowing, consider that you can already design and print your very own exoskeleton on your very own handy-dandy 3D printer in the privacy of your own home. Check it out: 3D Printed Exoskeleton.
Happy Mother’s Day, mom!