Hydraulic Knee Brace

This, I hope, will be the first in a series of ideas that aim to mechanically assist the natural actions of the body in performing their functions adequately, and typically, where injury, or other medical reasons have rendered that part of the body weak, or unable to perform in it's usual way... in this case, a weakness in the knee, which may cause a limp, and so impair the ability to walk naturally.

These Ideas will be based on the principle of using cheap, readily available materials, to utilise the principle of the redistribution of the forces which act on, and through the body in one area, or part of the body to aid another.

Here, a hydraulic (or pneumatic) knee brace is described which is composed of rubber tubing which can withstand the addition, and removal of internal pressure to a degree proportional to the weight of the person using it, in order to use that weight, applied to the heel in a normal walking step action, to compress a rubber container located under the heel, and squeeze the fluid contents out, up a suitable length of channel tubing, where it collects in a knee brace design, inflating it, pressurising it, and in so doing, making the brace rigid, and stiff, in order to assist the knee, in further bearing the weight of the body it has to support.
 Once the step is taken off this leg, and the weight transferred to the other leg, the elasticity of the rubber brace expels the fluid contents back to the now unpressurised heel block, allowing the knee to become flexible again so it can bend and lift to take the next step, and repeat the process.

This structure could be made of bicycle tyre inner tubing (I know, I use that a lot in my ideas!), and tougher plumbing gage flexible plastic pipe for the channel tubes running from the heel to the knee brace. A bit of super-glue, and a knife would be all that would be needed to complete the necessary equipment required to make it... and then, just fill with the appropriate contents: Air or Water.

While Air is a Lighter medium, water does have the benefit of probably being stiffer under compression, and when the pressure is released from the heel to take a step, the weight of the water running from the knee to the heel as you do so would assist in throwing the foot forward for that next step.

At the very least, this offers more support than a standard sports knee support, is a more natural mechanically operating system than a crutch or cane, is vastly cheaper than those electrical power assist suits currently under development, and can be made in your living room or kitchen with stuff you either salvage or buy from the hardware store for next to no money.

...Oh and it could be sewn into a pair of trousers for a little extra discretion!
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  • janicerand

    Good idea! Thank you for sharing ;)

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