A passive exoskeleton reduces peak and mean EMG during symmetric and asymmetric lifting.


Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, United States. Electronic address: [Email]


The VT-Lowe's exoskeleton is a novel passive lift-assistive device designed to offload the back muscles during repetitive lifting. In this study, the effect of the exoskeleton on electromyographic (EMG) signals was investigated in four different lifting types (stoop, squat, freestyle and asymmetric) and two box weights (0% and 20% of body weight). Twelve young healthy adults ages 18-31 years (mean = 22.75, SD = 4.35) were participants. The EMG signals for twelve muscles (iliocostalis erector spinae (IL), longissimus erector spinae (LT), multifidus (MF), bicep femoris (BF), vastus lateralis (VL) and abdominal external oblique (AEO) muscles) were measured. The exoskeleton significantly decreased the peak and mean activity of back muscles (IL and LT) by 31.5% and 29.3%, respectively, for symmetric lifts and by 28.2% and 29.5%, respectively, for asymmetric lifts. The peak and mean EMG of leg muscles were significantly reduced by 19.1% and 14.1% during symmetric lifts, and 17.4% and 14.6% during asymmetric lifts. Although the exoskeleton reduced the activation of back and leg muscles, it slightly increased the activity of external oblique muscles, although this was not statistically significant. In conclusion, the exoskeleton is promising as a lift-assist device for manual material handlers and workers performing repetitive lifting.


Back exoskeleton,Lift-assistive exoskeleton,Passive exoskeleton,