If a person complains of physical problems, the medical professional's task is to look for the causes and help rid the person of said problems. This is very successful in many areas, due to scientific progress. Many illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria have become much less horrifying. In other areas, medical science repairs worn out body parts, or replaces them so that the affected person can carry on with their life.
The majority of major joints in our bodies can be successfully replaced in the event of extreme wear. However, these operations are often followed by consequential damage, which make further intervention necessary. It would seem that after one joint is replaced, the wear on the neighbouring joints becomes worse. For example, a hip replacement is often followed by negative effects not only in the knee joint but also in the iliosacral joint and in the spinal discs. This means that further operations on the neighbouring major joints are likely to be required in the years following the first operation.
Another area that is difficult to treat is that of psychosomatic disorders, which also affect many young people and have been increasing over recent years. Migratory pain in the body, exhaustion, extreme tiredness and apathy are just a few manifestations of this. Equally, the causes of painful disorders such as fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome cannot be treated.
All of these manifestations of pain are difficult to explain through medical consideration of the physical condition, and therefore only the symptoms can be treated. These unfortunate situations indicate forces that cannot be proven, but that have a considerable effect. All forces that have an effect on the body from outside and that do not cause injuries have previously been unidentifiable, and have therefore not been included in analysis of causes.
Even the smallest changes in the direction of power when walking and standing can lead to an imbalance in muscle tension, which influences both the position of joints and the tension of tendons and ligaments.
Reversal of the direction of impact
If this estimation is realistic, a different approach must be developed in order to account for previously unconsidered influences. To do this, one can proceed as follows.
Once the internal mechanisms of complaints have been investigated, one should ask what influences are needed in order to cause a healthy body to misreact in the identified manner. Answering the question requires that external forces having an effect on the body are considered and investigated. Medical "exomechanics" aims to search for extra-physical reasons for the complaints, based on the results of the chain reactions in the person's body. Such a treatment approach can highlight solutions for many disorders whose causes have previously been untreatable. The following is an illustrative example of the appropriate approach.
Disorder caused by joint wear:
- Localisation of the areas of wear
- Biomechanical assessment of the body
- Calculation of vectors of force, from the centre of wear to the border with the skin.
- Calculation of external forces required to achieve the relevant effects
- Search for environmental influences that create such forces
- Elimination of environmental influences
- Observation of the effectChain reactions
The foundation of this approach is the search for external mechanical forces that trigger a chain reaction in the body. Internal bodily reactions in muscles and tendons, ligaments and bones to external forces should be investigated in particular. Minute forces that act on minimal areas of skin are difficult to detect, particularly because their effects can only be identified after a long period of time. However, it is clear that even very small forces can have considerable effects – all the more so because it is the smallest impulses that stimulate our neuronal networks. It is from this that the neurovegetative approach of influences on the body through muscle-related displacement of the body's centre of gravity developed. However, whilst individual impulses are actively used, it seems to be too complex to investigate all influences in their entirety.
To stay with the profile presented before, my approach is aimed at the forces from outside that can have an unnoticed but harmful effect on our bodies. It is also a kind of environmental research, which contributes to identifying harmful mechanical forces and protecting the body from them.
If the relationships between the internal regulatory circuits are understood, the effects of external forces can be described and explained. To do this, the scope of the exomechanical force must be defined. The force should only be able to contribute during the person's normal movement, i.e. it is determined by the contribution made by gravity and the body's own acceleration. These forces do not yet have any injury-causing effect at the point of entry. In the worst case scenario, the lasting strain causes pressure wounds.
Human beings' upright way of walking means that the majority of natural external mechanical forces are exerted on the foot. This means that the area of entry is limited to just a few cm². This fact limits the field of investigation, as all forces that have an effect on our bodies must pass through this narrow passageway. A large variety of forces constantly occur as part of our natural behaviour, meaning that it is impossible to differentiate between harmful, harmless and necessary forces. The effects of the forces on the body can be influenced at this interface between the environment and the body. By means of unconscious changes in stepping patterns, our vegetative nervous system attempts to alleviate harmful forces by changing the angle of entry. This means that the stepping pattern of the foot must be observed and documented over a long period of time.
To this end, I have developed the electronic measurement system InGAsys, which can be worn by the patient over a long period of time, without any limitation in their natural behaviour. Everyday practicality does, of course, limit the volume of recordable data, meaning that only a few parameters that are really significant can be documented over days. Analysis software decodes the collected data in order to be able to present indications of maldistribution of stress in individual areas of the body. This data is used to create an animated diagram of the regions of the body that are under strain, and to generate suggestions for improvement and forecasts for development of pain.
The expected development of pain is verified using empirical investigations carried out on thousands of test subjects. Comparative measurements and difference calculation are used to filter out clear indications of certain disorders. At the same time, measures to combat the identified maldistribution of stress are tried out, and possible side effects of these measures are investigated.
This development makes it possible – for the first time – to detect long-term exomechanical forces at the point of entry to the body, and to calculate the effects within the body. This simple combination of electronic measurement and empirical data collection opens up an entirely new field for medical research to explain many disorders whose causes have thus far been untreatable.
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