Gravity Balancing Flexure Spring Mechanisms for Shoulder Support in Assistive Orthoses

Martin Tschiersky, Edsko E.G. Hekman, Just L. Herder, Dannis M. Brouwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Passive shoulder supports show large potential for a wide range of applications, such as assisting activities of daily living and supporting work-related tasks. The rigid-link architecture used in currently available devices, however, may pose an obstacle to finding designs that offer low protrusion and close-to-body alignment. This study explores the use of mechanisms that employ a flexible element which connects the supported arm to an attachment at the back and acts as energy storage, transmission and part of the load bearing structure. Based on the synthesis method explained in this paper, a large scope investigation into possible flexure-based mechanism topologies is conducted. Thereby, many potential designs are discovered, which are presented, categorized and compared. Two promising designs are developed into prototypes, and are built and tested on a dedicated test bench. These two mechanisms reduce the necessary moment to lift the arm by more than 80 % throughout 85 % of the range of motion, while staying within 18 cm and 10 cm distance from the body, respectively. The study indicates that, due to its lower protrusion and interface loads, a design with a tapered flexure connecting the upper arm via a hinge to a spring-loaded slider at the back offers the most promising solution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-459
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Robotics and Bionics
Issue number2
Early online date28 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • gravity balancing
  • wearable device
  • assistive orthosis
  • shoulder support
  • flexure spring
  • Arms
  • Springs
  • Shoulder
  • Gravity
  • Kinematics
  • Exoskeletons
  • Biomimetics
  • 22/2 OA procedure


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