A novel spinal exoskeleton has undergone a comprehensive evaluation of the newest version. The SPEXOR exoskeleton is designed to prevent low-back pain and support workers with existing low-back pain. The team found the device performed better than existing devices.
The team concluded that the passive SPEXOR exoskeleton reached beyond the state of the art by high versatility due to implementation of a clutch, higher support levels (50 Nm), and a limitation of lumbar flexion in static bending, leading to reduced loading of the spine during lifting and forward bend positions.
The SPEXOR consortium is composed of partners with diverse and complementary expertise to maximize the expected scientific and technological benefits of the project. Partners include Jožef Stefan Institute, Heidelberg University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and VU University Amsterdam.
In addition, the team says it solved previously observed limitations of benchmarked devices, such as interference with tasks, discomfort, and restricted range of motion. According to the group, both healthy people and people with low back pain can benefit from wearing the device.
The testing assessed the effect of wearing the exoskeleton on biomechanical loading of the spine, functionality, user satisfaction, and self-efficacy. Recruiting employees from load-handling professions, the team tested participants with and without low back pain.
Design improvements that could still be considered include higher support to increase the effect on spine loading and higher user satisfaction by improving general comfort.