Skip to Content

Brace Yourself

September 1, 2004

A new knee brace that uses “smart fluids” to provide resistance could change post-injury rehabilitation for millions of people, making repetitive exercises simpler and the needed equipment lighter. Northeastern University mechanical engineer Constantinos Mavroidis and his collaborators have used electro-rheological fluids – materials whose viscosity changes in response to an electric field – to develop actuators that can provide controllable resistance with the flip of a switch. Grafting the actuators onto a standard knee brace converts it into a piece of exercise equipment, which could potentially replace bulky weight machines. And by using a computer to regulate the voltage applied to the actuators, the researchers can vary the brace’s resistance over time, making it smarter than traditional gym machines. Mavroidis would eventually like to license the technology for use in exercise equipment, but for now he’s concentrating on orthotics. An elbow brace should be finished by fall’s end, and Mavroidis has talked with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, MA, about tests of the knee brace that could begin as early as this fall.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.