Do you have any idea what life will be like when you’re 80?

Genetics and a look at your senior family members might offer you a clue, but scientists are working on creating ways for people to experience aging without the years or medical problems.

Applied Minds LLC has created the R70i, a suit that ages the wearer 40 years. The exoskeleton works in tandem with an Oculus virtual reality headset to impair vision and hearing, reduce mobility, and add weight to the wearer. In essence, you can experience all the medical drawbacks of aging. The suit will be used by insurance company Genworth Financial to help them predict the physical risks of muscle deterioration, arthritis, and more.

Why would anyone want to age forty years in a matter of minutes?

The inventors of R70i believe that the suit can help companies effectively understand the aging process, and the risks that accompany it. Medical research teams can use the suit to simulate the aging process when investigating common risks for seniors, caregiver companies could use the suits to help employees understand the challenges facing their charges, and the R70i suit could help innovators learn about the how the needs of seniors change as they age.

Tech companies are also working on ways to monitor senior health without intrusive machines. The Bodycap e-Celsius might be the newest way for medical professionals to take vitals for seniors. The e-pill is a small, swallowable pill which can track temperature, fluctuation in vital signs, and even spot irregular patterns in body functions that will predict a future illness. Imagine having the ability to monitor a senior’s heart, without dragging an EKG around.

Whether monitoring vitals or letting the able bodied experience rapid aging, technology is helping us understand the aging process in new and innovative ways.

In spite of the Diaphragm being one of the most important muscles in our body, it is often neglected and at times added to our exercise program as an afterthought.

diaphragm viewdiaphragm side view

Diaphragm is a large dome shaped muscle that completely separates the thoracic cavity (heart and lungs) from the abdominal cavity. It is attached to the sternum, the lower 6 ribs, and the top 2 to 3 lumbar vertebra.


 

The Diaphragm is one of the 4 deep stabilizers of the spine along with the pelvic floor, Transversus Abdominis (deep abdominal muscle) (TA), and the multifidus (back extensors). The contraction of the diaphragm causes pressure changes in both the cavities. When the diaphragm contracts, it moves down into the abdominal cavity. This creates an increased intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) which is countered by the resistance of the pelvic floor on the bottom, the TA in the front and the multifidus in the back- thus stabilizing the spine. “Without proper diaphragm contraction the increased IAP will not reach all the way down to the lower lumbar spine, where the loading is most prominent” (Hans Lindgren, 2011).

Our trunk can be compared to a soda can to understand how the diaphragm contributes to spinal stability. A soda can by itself is not strong, what makes it strong is the simple physics of pressure. It is not possible to smash a soda can when it is full and unopened because of the positive pressure from inside being exerted on the atmospheric pressure and gravity.  However, once you pop the can open, it is easy to crush the can. “The skeletal support of the trunk is not inherently strong. The trunk of the body uses a concept similar to the soda can to prevent being “smashed” by external forces”. The 4 deep core muscles, diaphragm, pelvic floor, TA and back extensors (multifidus) help to increase and provide positive intra-abdominal pressure to stabilize the spine and counter the compressive forces of gravity, (Massery 2012).

Conclusion

  • Core stabilization starts with the proper function and activation of the diaphragm.
  • It is necessary to strengthen all the 4 deep core muscles – Diaphragm, TA, pelvic floor and multifidus to allow the diaphragm to support the simultaneous needs of respiration and trunk stabilization.
  • Without the regular pressure changes within the thorax and abdomen provided by the diaphragm- hypotension, constipation, ineffective bladder drainage, and poor respiratory function can result (Massery 2012)
  • Proper functioning diaphragm is necessary for better posture, better balance, decreased low back pain, spinal mobility, and overall improved function and performance.
  • The effects of aging, shallow breathing and disease may negatively impact your ability to use your diaphragm and cause dysfunctional breathing patterns.
  • Dysfunctional breathing patterns are a common contributing factor for stiffness and pain in the neck, low-back and it is often a strong predictor of back pain (Smith et al 2006).

Refer to this link for an example of a Diaphragmatic breathing exercise.

To learn more or to work on your diaphragm, contact Mobility & More Inc. to have an in-home customized fitness program or physical therapy session.

Bordoni B, Zanier E (2013) Anatomic connections of the diaphragm: Influence of respiration on the body system. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare. 6;281-291
Courtney Rosalba (2009) the Function of Breathing and It’s Dysfunction and their Relationship to Breathing Therapy. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 12; 78-85
Massery M (2012 Multisystem clinical implications of impaired breathing mechanics and postural control. In: Frownfelter D, Dean E, eds. Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical therapy: Evidence to Practice. 5ed. St, Louis, MO: Elsevier-Mosby
Smith MD, Russell A, Hodges PW. Disorders of breathing and continence have a stronger association with back pain than obesity and physical activity.  Aust J Physiotherapy 2006; 52;11-16

A special contribution from:

Priti Prabhu, MSPT
Mobility & More Inc.
202 386 1595
Mobility & More Inc. provides customized individual and group senior fitness and physical therapy sessions to clients in the comfort of their homes and communities to improve quality of life and maintain or improve functional independence.

Elderly people yoga lifestlye.Vector illustration

Dealing with mobility issues on a daily basis can be a pain. Joints ache, balance wavers, and a nice, firm chair looks so much more inviting than a walk around the block. But if you want to feel better and reduce your arthritis pain, moving is the key.

A study presented at the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals found that low-impact exercise helped seniors suffering with arthritis to improve their balance and decrease pain.

How? It’s all about the moves.

Participants took low-impact classes for an eight-week period, focusing not on sweating, but on movement. By the end of the period, 88% of the seniors could climb stairs more confidently, 66% felt better about carrying their groceries, and 91% felt the classes reduced their fatigue. The best part of the study is this: Ninety-six percent of the seniors who took the classes were then motivated to try other forms of exercise.

So what do these numbers mean for those who are having trouble with their joints? They mean that you don’t have to run a marathon to get fit. Tai chi classes or a simple walk can transform your life as you age. Sedentary seniors don’t need to jump right into intense exercise. Basic movement classes can dramatically transform your pain levels and improve your mental outlook.

At Capital City Nurses, we know it can be hard to move, especially with arthritis. If you need help with motivation, our Daughter Down The Street or Son Stopping By program can help you. An experienced companion can visit you as often as you’d like to inspire you to do simple exercises and encourage you to keep moving.

Seniors can have it tough when it comes to aches and pains, and exercising isn’t always fun. But with a commitment to some low-impact activity, you can greatly reduce your pain and improve your confidence in the physical world. Doesn’t that sound like fun?