There are many potential uses for powered exoskeleton technology, from medical or therapeutic applications to protection and aid of civil servants like fire fighters. Exoskeleton technologies will be adaptable to several different circumstances, from full body suits for construction workers to specific parts such as leg supports for the elderly or disabled. The concepts behind exoskeletons can even be adapted to advanced prosthetics for individuals who have lost limbs altogether.
Many early exoskeleton projects focused mainly on the development of powered leg supports to aid those who have trouble walking. Over time, others began to include features such as back supports for those with spinal injuries to help align and stabilize the wearer. More recently many suits have included upper body support for the arms and shoulders, allowing mobility to those with deteriorated arms muscles or nerve damage and even enhanced strength for carrying increased loads. Still more projects have extended their efforts to include extra features such as back-mounted packs to allow the wearer to carry heavy loads without strain (UC Berkeley).
Besides helping the injured or disabled, powered exoskeletons can be employed to avoid injury in the first place. Those with hazardous jobs like fire and rescue workers could benefit from the protection an exoskeleton would provide as well as the increased strength it would allow. Suits designed for firemen could contain all the protective equipment used today plus more while simultaneously removing the strain of carrying extra weight. Such a suit would prevent fatigue and risk of injury and allow the wearer greater ability to perform the dangerous task at hand. Other individuals, construction workers for example, would undoubtedly find a use for this technology. Enhanced strength and durability would greatly ease a worker’s burden and reduce the risk of work-related injury.