Benchmarking commercially available soft and rigid passive back exoskeletons for an industrial workplace

Mohamed I. Mohamed Refai*, Alejandro Moya-Esteban, Lynn van Zijl, Herman van der Kooij, Massimo Sartori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Low-back pain is a common occupational hazard for industrial workers. Several studies show the advantages of using rigid and soft back-support passive exoskeletons and exosuits (exos) to reduce the low-back loading and risk of injury. However, benefits of using these exos have been shown to be task-specific. Therefore, in this study, we developed a benchmarking approach to assess exos for an industrial workplace at Hankamp Gears B.V. We assessed two rigid (Laevo Flex, Paexo back) and two soft (Auxivo Liftsuit 1.0, and Darwing Hakobelude) exos for tasks resembling the workplace. We measured the assistive moment provided by each exo and their respective influence on muscle activity as well as the user's perception of comfort and exertion. Ten participants performed four lifting tasks (Static hold, Asymmetric, Squat, and Stoop), while their electromyography and subjective measures were collected. The two rigid exos provided the largest assistance during the Dynamic tasks. Reductions in erector spinae activity were seen to be task-specific, with larger reductions for the two rigid exos. Overall, Laevo Flex offered a good balance between assistive moments, reductions in muscle activity, as well as user comfort and reductions in perceived exertion. Thus, we recommend benchmarking exos for intended use in the industrial workplace. This will hopefully result in a better adoption of the back-support exoskeletons in the workplace and help reduce low-back pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6
JournalWearable Technologies
Volume5
Early online date15 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • exoskeletons
  • exosuits
  • biomechanics

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