Wearable Technologies (Jan 2020)

Evaluation of an acceleration-based assistive strategy to control a back-support exoskeleton for manual material handling

  • Maria Lazzaroni,
  • Ali Tabasi,
  • Stefano Toxiri,
  • Darwin G. Caldwell,
  • Elena De Momi,
  • Wietse van Dijk,
  • Michiel P. de Looze,
  • Idsart Kingma,
  • Jaap H. van Dieën,
  • Jesús Ortiz

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 1


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To reduce the incidence of occupational musculoskeletal disorders, back-support exoskeletons are being introduced to assist manual material handling activities. Using a device of this type, this study investigates the effects of a new control strategy that uses the angular acceleration of the user’s trunk to assist during lifting tasks. To validate this new strategy, its effectiveness was experimentally evaluated relative to the condition without the exoskeleton as well as against existing strategies for comparison. Using the exoskeleton during lifting tasks reduced the peak compression force on the L5S1 disc by up to 16%, with all the control strategies. Substantial differences between the control strategies in the reductions of compression force, lumbar moment and back muscle activation were not observed. However, the new control strategy reduced the movement speed less with respect to the existing strategies. Thanks to improved timing in the assistance in relation to the typical dynamics of the target task, the hindrance to typical movements appeared reduced, thereby promoting intuitiveness and comfort.