A government funded scheme to do research into robotic trousers for the elderly is underway by British scientists. In other news, cancer patient waiting times are on the rise and the United States prepares as hurricane Florence arrives in North Carolina.
Robo-Trousers designed by British scientists
Robotic trousers or “robo-trousers” are being designed by British scientists in a government funded scheme to help the elderly and disabled stay mobile. Scientists at the University of Bristol are developing trousers with artificial muscles which could give the elderly, frail and disabled the ability to walk and stay independent for longer.
There are millions of people within the UK living with mobility issues and the number is set to rise with the ever-ageing population. We all want to stay active for as long as possible, so research councils have decided to invest money in a project which has been nicknamed ‘The Right Trousers’ in reference to the Wallace and Gromit animation ‘The Wrong Trousers’ in which Wallace invents a pair of robotic trousers.
The trousers themselves are not expected to be available for at least a decade and function by using a number of different technologies. Plastic bubbles will be incorporated into the trousers which can be inflated and deflated with air. When the bubbles are inflated, the structure contracts in a similar way to the bodies muscles. Professor Johnathan Rossiter, from the University of Bristol says:
You need a cylinder of air in your back pocket and as you walk you get little ‘phutts’ of air as they actuate”
At this point in time there are still some design issues which need ironing out, but the research is continuous and the trousers may be available within the next decade or two.
Cancer waiting at worst level in England
NHS statistics have recently revealed that only 78.2% of patients began their treatment within two months of being referred by their GP. This is well below the government target of 62 days and the lowest percentage since records began nearly 10 years ago. More than 3,000 people waited longer than two months for their urgent treatment which is an increase of 5% over the past three years.
Dr Fran Woodard, of Macmillan Cancer support said the figures were “disappointing” and Tom Sandford, directoy of the Royal College of Nursing for England said:
The figures in general paint an alarming picture of an NHS still reeling from a heatwave summer, our healthcare system could barely cope.”
Hurricane Florence hits North Carolina coast
The life-threatening hurricane Florence has recently touched down on the coast of North Carolina in the United States of America, bringing winds, heavy rain and floods with it. The governor of North Carolina said surviving the storm would be a test of “endurance, teamwork, common sense, and patience”.
No other population is as vulnerable as the elderly in cases of extreme weather, especially those who are frail, disabled or housebound. Older people can have a harder time evacuating because they may not have their own cars or be able to drive, but evacuations can also pose a number of dangers for fragile or ill individuals.
Thousands of people have been evacuated as the storm causes severe flooding and power shortages. Florence was recently downgraded to a category one hurricane, but forecasters are warning that conditions may only get worse as the storm comes ashore. Airlines have cancelled over 1000 flights and coastal towns have been left empty as many are spending their nights in shelters after having to leave their homes.