Decreasing Musculoskeletal Injuries
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Decreasing Musculoskeletal Injuries in Soldiers Through the Use of Anthromorphic Exoskeletons. By: Ryan Dolan. Combat Loads. The average load for a soldier currently deployed to Afghanistan is 91lbs This includes a soldier’s Rifle Ammunition Rations Spare Boots/socks Sleeping Gear

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Decreasing Musculoskeletal Injuries

in Soldiers

Through the Use of

Anthromorphic Exoskeletons

By: Ryan Dolan


Combat loads
Combat Loads

  • The average load for a soldier currently deployed to Afghanistan is 91lbs

  • This includes a soldier’s

    • Rifle

    • Ammunition

    • Rations

    • Spare Boots/socks

    • Sleeping Gear

    • Shovel

    • Kevlar plates

    • Medical kits called (IFACS)

    • NVG’s (mission dependant)

    • Radio’s

    • Gunner’s/Mortar men's munitions distributed evenly amongst the squad

    • And a multitude of other devices depending on the scale and importance of the mission at hand

  • On average an infantry soldier in Afghanistan will march no less than 40 km if no mounted vehicles or birds are available for transportation for a mission of relative importance


Back injuries from heavy loads
Back injuries from heavy loads

  • Terrain in Afghanistan makes carrying even the lightest of loads difficult and physically draining even for physically fit soldiers

  • In extreme cases mortar men can have loads that reach up to 140lbs

  • Only 2% of the soldiers who received treatment for musculoskeletal injuries (primarily in their back) and were treated at hospitals in either Germany or Washington returned to their deployments

The Bottom Line:

Today’s Army cannot afford to lose soldiers due to injuries that are easily preventable


The hulc human universal load carrier
The HULC: (Human Universal Load Carrier)

  • Designed by Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Lab (BRHE)

    • An anthromorphic, completely untethered, hydraulic powered exoskeleton that allows the operator to carry up to 200 lbs at a time.

  • Specifications:

  • Weight: 53lbs (without batteries)

  • Power: lithium polymer batteries

  • Electronics: flexible, expandable electronics architecture. Custom single-board micro electronics housed in a sealed enclosure. Heat sinks on actuators

  • Hydraulics: Efficient low-flow, high pressure hydraulic system that utilizes standard hydraulic fluid


  • Features:

  • Range: 20km on level terrain at 4 km/hr

  • Load Carriage: Up to 200 lbs; carries front and back loads

  • Speed: 3mph march; up to 10 mph burst

  • Fits soldiers from 5’4”-6’2”

  • Extensibility:

  • Wide variety of mission specific attachments

  • Capable as serving as a backbone for integrated systems such as armor, heating or cooling systems, sensors and other custom attachments

  • Long-range extended 72 hour mission


Functionality
Functionality

  • Distributes the weight load through the frame of the exoskeleton distributes it to the ground

  • Can still support weight if the batteries are low or depleted, which allows the operator the safety of not being crushed under the weight of the load if a malfunction occurs

  • Easy to put on: a soldier only needs to put his boots into the foot bed and strap the straps at his knee waist and shoulders and the HULC is fully operational

  • Uses sensors in the foot to interpret the movement of the soldier, sends those signals to the microprocessor housed in the electronics compartment, which then sends signals to the hydraulic system of the HULC in order to replicate the soldiers movements.

  • Normal batteries can supply a soldier with enough power for a 48 hour mission, and other versions are available that can increase the operational time to 72 hours.

  • In the future it is the hopes of both Lockheed Martin and the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering lab to create an exoskeleton that provides the soldier with 360 degree armor, protecting him from small arms fire


References
References

  • http://www.defensereview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Berkeley_Bionics_Lockheed_Martin_HULC_Human_Universal_Load_Carrier_Anthropomorphic_Exoskeleton_for_Military_Combat_SOFIC_2012_DefenseReview.com_DR_1.jpg

  • http://themoderatevoice.com/18253/iraq-an-artists-idea-of-remembering-forgotten-soldiers/

  • http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/03/ap_stress_injuries_031109/

  • http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/21/hulc-exo-skeleton-ready-for-testing-set-to-hit-the-ground-runni/

  • http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/MilitaryMedicine/16889

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Universal_Load_Carrier

  • http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/hulc.html


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