Back support soft exosuits are promising solutions to reduce risk of musculoskeletal injuries at workplaces resulting from physically demanding and repetitive lifting tasks. Design of novel active exosuits address the impact on the muscle activity and metabolic costs but do not consider other critical aspects such as comfort and user perception during the intended tasks. Thus, in this study, we describe a novel soft active exosuit in line with its impact on physiological and subjective measures during lifting. We tested four healthy participants who performed repetitive lifting tasks with and without this exosuit. The exosuit provided assistance proportional to the lumbar flexion angle measured using an inertial measurement unit. We measured the participant's multimodal physiological measures including surface electromyography, metabolic cost, heart rate, and skin temperature. We also measured subjective scores on user exertion, task load, and device acceptability. All participants perceived a reduction in task load when using the exosuit. Three participants showed reduction of muscle activity for the erector spinae muscles. The metabolic costs and heart rate reserve reduced for two participants, with similar trends for skin temperature. For future development of workplace exosuits, we recommend incorporating assessments of both physiological and subjective measures, considering the user-dependent response to the exosuit.
|IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics
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