Summaries of Our Applied Research: Industrial Exoskeletons
Summary: This study evaluated loading on the low back while wearing two commercially available postural assist exoskeletons. Results suggest that interventions that alter the external environment of the lift itself (i.e., lift tables or scissor lifts) may be more beneficial to LBD risk reduction than postural assist exoskeletons if implementation of this type of intervention is feasible.
Summary: The objective of this study was to investigate biomechanical loading to the low back as a result of wearing an exoskeleton. While exoskeletal interventions offer the potential to mitigate biomechanical risk to the shoulders during use of heavy hand tools, these results suggest that use of this particular exoskeleton [Steadicam Fawcett Exoskeletal Vest, Tiffen, Hauppauge, NY, USA] may come at some cost to the low back. The results presented here are specific to the exoskeletal intervention and specific conditions tested, so these results should not be extrapolated to all exoskeleton devices. However, the results of this study do highlight the need for exoskeletons designed for use in occupational environments to be developed using a systems approach, considering biomechanical loading not only at a particular musculoskeletal joint of interest (i.e., the shoulders) but also how mechanical loads might be shifted or transferred with exoskeleton use.