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Giving Nurses a Lift

Japanese mechanical device helps caregivers hoist patients

Japanese engineers have devised a mechanical "exoskeleton" that can be worn by nurses to help them lift patients and avoid back problems, reports NewScientist.com.

Though it looks unwieldy, with multiple cables and compressed air lines, the prototype contraption, which cost about $25,000 to build, allows a 140-pound nurse to lift a 154-pound patient by herself, the story says.

Back problems caused by lifting are a big problem for caregivers, taking 3,600 nurses off the job each year in Britain, for example, the report says. Even two nurses lifting a patient risk back injuries, says this Ohio State University report.

Back injuries are the No. 1 workplace injury in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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