Augsburg, 10.03.2020 – Active exoskeletons, such as the smart Cray X power suit from European technology leader German Bionic, have been proven to relieve the strain on the lumbar spine and thus to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), as they effectively decrease the amount of strain on the lower back and the degree of muscle fatigue. This positive effect on health is made possible through the provision of additional mechanical power generated by two powerful electric motors and controlled by smart intelligent AI-supported software. Standard rechargeable batteries that last up to 8 hours and can be changed within just a few seconds are used to supply the required energy. The new study, which is now available, was conducted under the scientific direction of Berlin-based preventive physician Prof. Herbert Schuster.
Passive exoskeletons merely shift forces to other parts of the body
“Unlike passive exoskeletons from various German and European manufacturers, which merely relocate forces to other parts of the body, active systems such as the Cray X robotic exoskeleton from German Bionic have been proven to provide relief for its wearer during heavy lifting tasks of up to 25 kg,” explains the head of the study, Prof. Herbert Schuster. “With passive back exoskeletons that work with expander technology, i.e. spring systems, even bending down becomes a strenuous task, similar to using gym equipment. This can quickly lead to fatigue and thus to an increased risk of accidents, and in the long run to excessive strain, which counteracts the desired effect.”
Overview of the study’s key findings:
- Active lumbar support exoskeletons reduce the propensity of MSDs as they effectively relieve muscular strain and decrease levels of fatigue – It is estimated that the total cost of lost productivity attributable to MSDs among people of working age in the EU could be as high as 2% of gross domestic product (GDP), or around EUR 300 billion annually.
- Electromyography results show a mean reduction in muscular strain of Δ48-50% in the lumbar erector spinae muscles and a maximum amplitude of up to Δ66%
- Ergospirometry testing confirmed that active exoskeleton wearers reduced their average O2 consumption by more than 15%
- Study participants recorded a 15% lower maximum heart rate during periods of exertion
- The benefits provided by the active exoskeleton were most pronounced during activities requiring participants to complete a strict quota of lifting and mental tasks within a set timeframe (i.e. similar to in a work situation)
The study by Prof. Herbert Schuster entitled “Initial Investigation into the Effect of Powered Lumbar-Support Industrial Exoskeletons” is available upon request, free of charge.