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.”

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