What RA Is Like: Heavy Armor Hindered Medieval Warriors

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screenshot armor study in Science DailyResearchers at Leeds in the UK studied how medieval soldiers were affected by the weight of the armor (approximately 40-50 kg or 80-90 lbs). Researchers wore replicas of European armor while monitoring oxygen usage. The subjects’ breathing was more frequent and shallow as they used twice as much energy just to move around.

“Being wrapped in a tight shell of armour may have made soldiers feel safe,” says co-investigator Dr Federico Formenti from the University of Auckland. “But you feel breathless as soon as you begin to move around in Medieval armour and this would likely limit a soldier’s resistance to fight,” Heavy Metal Hardens Battle: Body Armor Hindered Medieval Warriors, Science Daily.

When I saw the picture and read the description, all I could think of was it sounds like living with the frozen joints of RA. Walking around in cookie dough is especially tiresome, regardless of pain. I was fascinated with how it is a picture that corresponds to the symptoms of RA – both joint and systemic. After a few minutes in the armor, a warrior might experience

  • Extreme tiredness like the fatigue of RA
  • Stiffness
  • Tender joints
  • Weakness

It was interesting that the researchers mentioned that wearing spread out armor was even more difficult than carrying the same weight in a heavy backpack. The first couple of years with full-time RA, I used to say it was like every morning I woke up at the bottom of a mountain, carrying a heavy backpack. Just going through my day was like lugging that backpack uphill all day.

The disease worsens gradually, but you eventually stop the constant comparing of life now to life before RA. I hadn’t thought of the backpack in a while. It’s still there, but I don’t think of it anymore, something invisible we carry around that we can’t put down.

The armor just seemed like one good way to explain what it’s like for us RA Warriors to push through every day. Maybe the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation should get a set of armor for others to borrow for simulating the RA experience? Of course, real warriors have the added difficulty of walking around with multiple joint “injury.” You can’t simulate that pain.

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 30th, 2012 at 4:55 am and is filed under If you don't have RA, please read. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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