Harnessing new ideas
Gunners, patrol personnel, cooks, medics and other soldiers who wear helmets for long periods of time could get much needed head and neck relief from a revolutionary device developed by US Army Research Laboratory researchers, a new study found. The vertical load offset system—or VLOS, a prototype exoskeletal device designed to displace the static load of the helmet onto the shoulders, proved in recent studies to reduce apparent strain overall on a soldier’s head and neck. Some soldiers reported both the sensation of lighter head-borne weight and more helmet stability. Achieving these results—given the dynamic movement of the head in combination with helmets loaded with equipment such as night vision devices, batteries and other equipment—is a major step forward, researchers said.
Soldiers at Aberdeen Proving Ground reported these and other immediate benefits of the archetype during a week-long humanfactors evaluation conducted earlier this summer on the soldier performance equipment advanced research (SPEAR) obstacle course and at the SPEAR Biomechanics Laboratory.
Dr Shawn Walsh, principal investigator for VLOS concept development, said VLOS potentially could “serve as a technology solution that makes helmets with more ballistic coverage and head-borne electronic hardware more tolerable.”