Sensors (Dec 2021)

Optimizing Calibration Procedure to Train a Regression-Based Prediction Model of Actively Generated Lumbar Muscle Moments for Exoskeleton Control

  • Ali Tabasi,
  • Maria Lazzaroni,
  • Niels P. Brouwer,
  • Idsart Kingma,
  • Wietse van Dijk,
  • Michiel P. de Looze,
  • Stefano Toxiri,
  • Jesús Ortiz,
  • Jaap H. van Dieën

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 1
p. 87


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The risk of low-back pain in manual material handling could potentially be reduced by back-support exoskeletons. Preferably, the level of exoskeleton support relates to the required muscular effort, and therefore should be proportional to the moment generated by trunk muscle activities. To this end, a regression-based prediction model of this moment could be implemented in exoskeleton control. Such a model must be calibrated to each user according to subject-specific musculoskeletal properties and lifting technique variability through several calibration tasks. Given that an extensive calibration limits the practical feasibility of implementing this approach in the workspace, we aimed to optimize the calibration for obtaining appropriate predictive accuracy during work-related tasks, i.e., symmetric lifting from the ground, box stacking, lifting from a shelf, and pulling/pushing. The root-mean-square error (RMSE) of prediction for the extensive calibration was 21.9 nm (9% of peak moment) and increased up to 35.0 nm for limited calibrations. The results suggest that a set of three optimally selected calibration trials suffice to approach the extensive calibration accuracy. An optimal calibration set should cover each extreme of the relevant lifting characteristics, i.e., mass lifted, lifting technique, and lifting velocity. The RMSEs for the optimal calibration sets were below 24.8 nm (10% of peak moment), and not substantially different than that of the extensive calibration.