|Credit: Asahi Shimbun, Honda SMA|
Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research warned that the nation’s population will plummet by more than 61 percent to just under 50 million. More than two-fifths (41.1 percent) of the total population will be above the age of 65 by then.
This dramatic demographic development will require increasing health care and rehab support for the elderly.
At the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG) in Obu, Aichi Prefecture, Japan seniors have walked since last year with Honda's latest walking device, called the Stride Management Assist (SMA), based on bipedal humanoid Asimo technology. The 2.4 kilogram SMA is attached to the body from the waist to the thighs and supports the locomotion with motors at the base of the legs. With this device seniors with limited walking ability can comfortably walk with a longer stride. Honda provided 40 units of the new device to a planned NCGG exercise program designed to help elderly people avoid becoming dependent on nursing care services.
According to Hiroyuki Shimada at the NCGG this is the world’s first survey to see whether technology-assisted walking improves people’s motor function and is effective in reducing the number of people dependent on nursing care. Based on the results of the test Honda plans to market the device in the future.
[Ashai Shimbun News]