Effects of two passive back-support exoskeletons on postural balance during quiet stance and functional limits of stability

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2021 Apr;57:102516. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2021.102516. Epub 2021 Jan 19.

Abstract

While occupational back-support exoskeletons (BSEs) are considered as potential workplace interventions, BSE use may compromise postural control. Thus, we investigated the effects of passive BSEs on postural balance during quiet upright stance and functional limits of stability. Twenty healthy adults completed trials of quiet upright stance with differing levels of difficulty (bipedal and unipedal stance; each with eyes open and closed), and executed maximal voluntary leans. Trials were done while wearing two different BSEs (SuitX™, Laevo™) and in a control (no-BSE) condition. BSE use significantly increased center-of-pressure (COP) median frequency and mean velocity during bipedal stance. In unipedal stance, using the Laevo™ was associated with a significant improvement in postural balance, especially among males, as indicated by smaller COP displacement and sway area, and a longer time to contact the stability boundary. BSE use may affect postural balance, through translation of the human + BSE center-of-mass, restricted motion, and added supportive torques. Furthermore, larger effects of BSEs on postural balance were evident among males. Future work should further investigate the gender-specificity of BSE effects on postural balance and consider the effects of BSEs on dynamic stability.

Keywords: Bipedal stance; Center of pressure; Occupational exoskeleton; Postural control; Unipedal stance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Muscles / physiology*
  • Exoskeleton Device* / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Standing Position*
  • Young Adult