September is Pain Awareness Month during which the medical industry aims to raise public awareness of pain, pain management solutions, and the work of pain professionals. Living with pain can be debilitating and negatively affect the quality of life of patients and the people around them. Current statistics estimate that nearly 50 million Americans experience chronic pain. Worsening the burden of chronic pain is an alarming rise in opioid abuse and addiction which has brought a critical focus on non-drug treatment approaches for both acute and chronic pain.
Over time, damaged and dysfunctional components of the body’s cells accumulate leading to a potential buildup of cellular debris which can permanently alter the genes, structure, and function of cells. Clearing away these parts is essential for maintaining optimal cellular function and happens naturally in the body during a complex process called autophagy. Scientists are currently investigating the potential benefits and risks involved with inducing autophagy, which has been linked to several positive health effects including the improvement of cellular health and promotion of an elongated human lifespan. Research in this field remains in its early stages yet some studies have revealed promising results that could shape future approaches to functional medicine.
Prolonged leaning and repeated lifting movements can frequently lead to fatigue of the low back muscles, which are responsible for the extension of the lumbar spine and undergo undesirable function changes such as tremors, discomfort, soreness, and exhaustion. Lumbar muscle fatigue can negatively impact an individual’s performance, productivity, satisfaction, and safety – especially in the case of workers in manual material handling environments. External aids and wearable assistive devices have been proven to mitigate or reduce lumbar muscle fatigue although the majority currently available on the market are limited by practical factors such as affordability, form, and ability to be seamlessly integrated into workflow.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University examined the benefits of wearing a new clothing-like exoskeleton on the reduction of back muscle fatigue and the physical relief afforded to material handlers, medical professionals, and other frontline workers. Its findings were published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.