Researchers: New Material Can Protect older adults

    25 March, 2014


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

    British scientists say they have developed a material that could help protect older adults from breaking bones when they fall. The new substance is called Armourgel. Scientists say it is soft enough to be put in normal everyday clothing.

    As people get older, many of them develop the disease osteoporosis. It makes their bones so weak that even a minor fall can cause a bone to break. In some cases, older adults can die from breaking bones or from problems resulting from them. The Reuters news service Reports that Britain's National Osteoporosis Society says more than 1,000 people die every month in Britain from hip fractures.

    Researchers: New Material Can Protect older adults
    Researcher Daniel, Founder of Armourgel Limited

    Armourgel is a combination of two new man-made materials. These materials quickly take in or absorb energy when they hit something, this protects whatever is behind the material.

    Researcher Daniel Plant works at Imperial College in London. He launched a company called Armourgel Limited. He says one of the materials in Armourgel moves with the clothing, but becomes hard when it strikes something.

    "It's soft and flowable so it moves with the musculature of the body but when you impact it it momentarily goes rigid," said Plant.

    Researchers have joined the material with a substance whose cells collapse when they are hit.

    "When you impact it in this direction it actually folds in on itself," said Plant.

    Daniel Plant says, it is the combination of these materials that makes Armourgel special. The new product is said to be much thinner than other protective materials currently being sold.

    In a video on the company's website, an unprotected ball hit by a hard object is shown breaking into many pieces. But a ball protected by Armourgel does not break. That is because the Armourgel pad hardens and absorbs the energy of the object when it is hit. Soon after the material hardens, it becomes soft again.

    Steven Gambert is a geriatric trauma specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He helps older men and women who have suffered injuries. He told VOA on Skype that having the ability to turn soft quickly means Armourgel can be put into clothing. But Doctor Gambert says, bone protectors, no matter how good, are not the best solution.

    "The key is to prevent the bones from losing their mineral content, staying healthy. And then even if you fall, you won't break your bone," said Gambert.

    Daniel Plant says, stores could begin selling clothing with Armourgel as soon as 2016.

    From VOA learning English, I'm Jonathan Evans.