The promise of exoskeletons is to make manual labor easier by providing extra strength to the arms, and hopefully alleviating injuries and overall impact on the body. Researchers at Ohio State wanted to study whether this is really true, so they evaluated whether a Steadicam device, commonly used passive device for stabilizing cameras during filming, really does help workers in the long run.
In short, what they found out is that the unpowered device, really transfers the impact to other parts of the body, increasing the load on the spine and making the muscles in the torso work harder. They suggest that the design of future exoskeletons take this matter into account, as there can be an increase in more severe injuries that are difficult to treat.
“This exoskeleton is meant to offload weight from your arms, so for your arms it’s great,” said Gregory Knapik, senior researcher at Ohio State. “The problem is, the weight of the tool, the weight of the mechanical arm and the weight of the vest you’re wearing—that all goes to your back. At the end of the day, you’re just trading one problem for a potentially even worse problem.”
Study in journal Applied Ergonomics: Biomechanical evaluation of exoskeleton use on loading of the lumbar spine….
Via: Ohio State…