IJERPH, Vol. 19, Pages 9965: Effects of a Passive Back-Support Exoskeleton on Knee Joint Loading during Simulated Static Sorting and Dynamic Lifting Tasks (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Due to the load shifting mechanism of many back-support exoskeletons (BSEs), this study evaluated possible side effects of using a BSE on knee joint loading. Twenty-nine subjects (25.9 (±4.4) years, 179.0 (±6.5) cm; 73.6 (±9.4) kg) performed simulated static sorting and dynamic lifting tasks, including stoop and squat styles and different trunk rotation postures. Ground reaction force, body posture and the force between the chest and the BSE’s contact interface were recorded using a force plate, two-dimensional gravimetric position sensors, and a built-in force sensor of the BSE, respectively. Using these parameters and the subject’s anthropometry, median and 90th percentile horizontal (HOR50, HOR90) and vertical (VERT50, VERT90) tibiofemoral forces were calculated via a self-developed inverse quasi-static biomechanical model. BSE use had a variable effect on HOR50 dependent on the working task and body posture. Generally, VERT50 increased without significant interaction effects with posture or task. HOR90 and VERT90 were not affected by using the BSE. In conclusion, utilizing the investigated exoskeleton is likely to induce side effects in terms of changed knee joint loading. This may depend on the applied working task and the user’s body posture. The role of these changes in the context of a negative contribution to work-related cumulative knee exposures should be addressed by future research.