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Currently in use in long-term care settings. Muscle Suits® for assisted personal mobility

Health is an important topic with a close connection to human happiness. And ensuring that everyone in society can lead a healthy life, both in mind and body, requires social welfare services. 
Social welfare services are services aimed at helping improve the quality of life of each person in society. For example, a social welfare service that we are all familiar with is health insurance, which helps to reduce the burden of health care costs.

An example of a social welfare service for which continued, growing demand is expected is long-term care for the elderly. 
Since 2014, the Kobayashi Laboratory in the Faculty of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has offered for sale its Muscle Suits® as a technology-driven human mobility support tool for use in a variety of settings, such as long-term care, manufacturing, logistics and construction. 

Muscle Suits® are equipped with artificial muscles made from rubber tubing worn on the body to support the user’s movement. In a long-term care setting, there are many situations which require some combination of squatting and bending at the waist, such as when helping with bathing or getting in and out of a vehicle. In those situations, the rubber tubing is filled with compressed air to provide strong support for raising the upper body. 
Since its release, around 20,000 Muscle Suits® have already been sold as of April 2021 and are being utilized in a number of different facilities.

Technology that provides users with dignity in daily life by providing them with control over their own bodies

The Kobayashi Laboratory is making fresh progress on its efforts to develop and release an “Active Walker.” 
This device automatically raises users from a fully reclining to upright position and uses artificial muscles secured to both legs to assist them with walking. The aim is to enable even bedridden users to move their bodies freely and at will. 
This device will hopefully find more widespread adoption so that the previously impossible will become possible for more people, and, towards that end, clinical testing and improvements are ongoing.

Being unable to move your own body is not simply an inconvenience, it is a tremendous mental and emotional burden. Hence, by developing technology that gives users autonomy over their daily lives, the Kobayashi Laboratory seeks to provide users with empowering tools for leading truly healthy and fulfilling lives, both mentally and physically. 
It is in this spirit that the Kobayashi Laboratory creates unprecedented technologies that spur new trends and advancements in the crucial field of health.

Faculty of Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering
Professor Hiroshi KOBAYASHI

■ Main research content

Fields of research encompass intelligent machines and mechanical systems (robots, image analysis, applications). Research is focused on technologies for assisted bodily movement, such as Muscle Suits® and Active Walkers.

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