Elongation of the surface of the spine during lifting and lowering, and implications for design of an upper body industrial exoskeleton

The aim of this study was to assess the elongation of the skin surface of the spine for simulated industrial lifting and lowering tasks to aid the design of industrial exoskeletons worn on the back. Eighteen male participants lifted and lowered a box of varying loads (5?kg, 10?kg, 15?kg) using three techniques (squat, semi-squat, stooped) from the ground to a table. Motion capture sensors attached to the spine from C7 to S1 measured movement. Stoop lifting involved significantly more elongation (mean 71.1?mm; margin of error ±6.9) than squat lifting (mean 36.8?mm; margin of error ±6.9). Load and Task (lift vs. lower) did not have a significant effect on elongation. Elongation of the skin surface of the lumbar spine was greater than for the thoracic spine. These data detail example levels of elongation of the skin surface of the spine, which should be considered in upper body wearable industrial exoskeleton design. Further, exoskeleton design should take into account that the skin surface of the lumbar spine involves greater elongation than the skin surface of the thoracic spine during deep lifting.

Source: Huysamen, K., Power, V. et O'Sullivan, L. (2018). Applied ergonomics, 72, 10-16.

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