A Backbone-Tracking Passive Exoskeleton to Reduce the Stress on the Low-Back: Proof of Concept Study

IEEE Int Conf Rehabil Robot. 2022 Jul:2022:1-6. doi: 10.1109/ICORR55369.2022.9896514.


Exoskeletons for the low-back have great potential as tools to both prevent low-back pain for healthy subjects and limit its impact for chronic patients. Here, we show a proof-of-concept evaluation of our low-back exoskeleton. Its peculiar feature is the backbone-tracking kinematic structure that allows tracking the motion of the human spine while bending the trunk. This mechanism is implemented with a rigid-yet-elongating structure that does not hinder nor constrain the motion of the wearer while providing assistance. In this work, we show the first prototype we manufactured. It is equipped with a traction spring to assist the wearer during trunk flexion/extension. Then, we report the results of a preliminary test with healthy subjects. We measured a reduction of the mean absolute value for some target muscles - including the erector spinae - when using the exoskeleton for payload manipulation tasks. This was achieved without affecting task performance, measured as task time and joints range of motion. We believe these preliminary results are encouraging, paving the way for a broader experimental campaign to evaluate our exoskeleton.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Exoskeleton Device*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain* / prevention & control
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Proof of Concept Study
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Spine