A University of North Texas (Denton, TX) graduate student is taking a step toward making exoskeletons available to help more people. Typically, exoskeletons, which are wearable mobile machines that allow for more limb movement, increased strength, and endurance, are extremely expensive and mostly used in the military. However, Jenn Cao, a student in UNT’s College of Engineering, has created a working prototype aimed at helping those who struggle to walk because of osteoarthritis in their knees.

“We built a prototype and it functions,” says Cao. “I’ve tried it out myself and it really works. It’s very new, but we now have created a brace that could potentially increase range of motion. There currently isn’t one made for the elderly, so, we wanted to create one that was relatively cheap for production and increases the knee range of motion. We’re hoping to help with knee weakness, pain and knees that just don’t want to bend.”

“This is potentially a big picture idea that could work for anyone who could use functional knee help on a day-to-day basis,” she says. “We’re still in the process of digging deeper to see how we could model something like this into a more concrete form. However, I am excited about what could happen next.”

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