Enfeeblement and Robotic Legs

I’ve been seeing some things being bandied around on the internet recently – robotic exoskeletons to enable you to ski for longer and springs that you put behind your knees to enable you to stand up for less effort. I got a little incensed about this, mainly because of what they have in common – a lack of strength, continued atrophy of muscles, and the potential enfeeblement of the human body. (Don’t get me wrong – exoskeletons/replacement limbs for paraplegics and amputees are a good thing – I’m railing against something else here.) It might seem like a lovely idea … Continue reading

Falls vs walking. Risk/reward?

I had the same piano teacher since I was 7 until I was 18. She was already retired then. Until recently – as I approach my 40’s she was still stomping around the globe, going on holidays and generally enjoying life, and was the epitome of the active elder generation. Earlier this year I received news that on a recent winter cruise she unfortunately contracted pneumonia with diabetic complications. And this, in her mid-90’s. Luckily she had some excellent family support around her and was recovering well, her main preoccupation was to “escape the nursing home”. My dad was one … Continue reading

Inevitable decline?!

Following on from this podcast I listened to recently (a BMJ interview with Scarlett McNally and Muir Gray, orthopedic surgeon and Public Health doctor, on Exercise in Old Age), I thought it might be nice to read the actual document it was based on, and maybe try to summarise it. Everyone can listen to the cast, but not a whole lot of people are going to pay £23 to read a 4 page document…but information access is a topic for another day. So – what did the analysis say? Well – the headline of the whole thing was this: Dramatic … Continue reading

Human movements: How not to lose them as you get older

The words “deadlift” and “squat” provoke particular images and predictable responses from a number of people. People who don’t “do” the gym tend to see them as a bit of a scary thing which can lead to some pretty scary injuries, and are therefore classed in the “do not do this activity” section of their heads. The fact that these movements are based around everyday movements – or what should be everyday movements seems to pass a lot of people by. Pick up something heavy. That’s a Deadlift. Sit down and stand up again. That’s effectively a dead-stop squat. Normal, … Continue reading

Fall Prevention

If you have a small child who has not yet learned to walk, yet you are worried about them falling over, what should you do to prevent them from falling over. There are 2 options really: Don’t allow them to get up off the floor. If they’re always on the floor they can’t fall over. Encourage them to learn to walk, gradually increasing their sense of balance and strength as they do so. I think you might agree that the first option really isn’t viable, so what we tend to do is let them get on with it. They want … Continue reading