Biomechanical Evaluation of Passive Back-Support Exoskeletons in a Precision Manual Assembly Task: “Expected” Effects on Trunk Muscle Activity, Perceived Exertion, and Task Performance

Published on 2020-01-15T13:08:45Z (GMT) by
<div>Objective<p>To assess the efficacy of two different passive back-support exoskeleton (BSE) designs, in terms of trunk muscle activity, perceived low-back exertion, and task performance.</p>Background<p>BSEs have the potential to be an effective intervention for reducing low-back physical demands, yet little is known about the impacts of different designs in work scenarios requiring varying degrees of symmetric and asymmetric trunk bending during manual assembly tasks.</p>Method<p>Eighteen participants (gender balanced) completed lab-based simulations of a precision manual assembly task using a “grooved pegboard.” This was done in 26 different conditions (20 unsupported; 6 supported, via a chair), which differed in vertical height, horizontal distance, and orientation.</p>Results<p>Using both BSEs reduced metrics of trunk muscle activity in many task conditions (≤47% reductions when using BackX™ and ≤24% reductions when using Laevo™). Such reductions, though, were more pronounced in the conditions closer to the mid-sagittal plane and differed between the two BSEs tested. Minimal effects on task completion times or ratings of perceived exertion were found for both BSEs.</p>Conclusion<p>Our findings suggest that using passive BSEs can be beneficial for quasi-static manual assembly tasks, yet their beneficial effects can be task specific and specific to BSE design approaches. Further work is needed, though, to better characterize this task specificity and to assess the generalizability of different BSE design approaches in terms of physical demands, perceived exertion, and task performance.</p>Application<p>These results can help guide the choice and application of passive BSE designs for diverse work scenarios involving nonneutral trunk postures.</p></div>

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Madinei, Saman; Alemi, Mohammad Mehdi; Kim, Sunwook; Srinivasan, Divya; Nussbaum, Maury A. (2020): Biomechanical Evaluation of Passive Back-Support Exoskeletons in a Precision Manual Assembly Task: “Expected” Effects on Trunk Muscle Activity, Perceived Exertion, and Task Performance. SAGE Journals. Collection. https://doi.org/10.25384/SAGE.c.4818207.v1